A recently published report on North Europe produced by Hackett Associates and the Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics shows that volumes of container shipping declined in April compared with March. The report tracks volumes through Le Havre, Zeebrugge, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremen and Hamburg, which are estimated to have decreased by 2.1%.
Consumer confidence is falling due to austerity measures and economic uncertainty, which reduces the volume of imports. Demand is expected to remain weak this year, although not negative – import growth is predicted to reduce to 8.5% this year, a decrease from 12.6% in 2010, but exports are expected to grow at 10.9%, almost the same as 2010.
Against this trend, volumes through the Baltic ports of Russia and Poland are growing dramatically, returning them to the levels of the pre-recession boom. According to local commentators, the Russian import boom will continue as long as oil prices remain high.