Sector Development

After a surprisingly weak 2015, the market research institute Drewry anticipates a slight recovery in global container throughput in 2016 with growth of 2.4 %. Momentum is expected to come from the US East Coast and Gulf Coast shipping regions (+5.0 % and +4.0 % respectively) as well as the Middle East and South Asia (+4.4 % and +4.3 % respectively). In line with the country’s current economic slowdown, significantly lower throughput growth of 3.3 % is forecast for China – the Port of Hamburg’s most important shipping region.

Following a strong fall in volumes at European ports in 2015, Drewry expects the situation to stabilise in the outlook period with slight growth of 0.2 %. However, container traffic is not expected to recover in all shipping regions. While the experts forecast an upturn in throughput for the shipping regions of North-West Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, further volume losses are expected for the Scandinavian and Baltic regions – although the expected decline of 6.5 % is much less than in the previous year (- 17.3 %).

Growth Expectations for Container Throughput

in %




Trend vs. 2015

Source: Drewry Maritime Research; as of December 2015





Europe as a whole




North-West Europe




Scandinavia and the Baltic region


- 6.5


Western Mediterranean




Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea




In light of the overall subdued volume trend and increased terminal capacity in the , competition between the ports is expected to become even fiercer in 2016. There is also a structural surplus of ship space on the container shipping market in 2016. According to estimates of the market research institute Alphaliner, the total capacity of the container ship fleet will grow by 4.5 % in the forecast period – despite declining orders and delayed delivery. This is still twice as fast as the growth in global container volumes. In order to stabilise the market, despite this growing idle capacity, the sector will continue to consolidate through acquisitions and mergers. This will lead to the formation of new consortia and the pooling of container services.

Despite the modest container throughput forecast for the north-western European ports, stable or rising transport volumes are expected for pre- and onward-carriage systems in hinterland traffic. In light of the ongoing increase in ship sizes, and the associated increase in container volumes per ship call, the pressure on and hinterland transport systems will continue to rise.

Sentiment indicators for European rail freight in the first half of 2016 have picked up slightly. According to Prognos and the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), the transport sector is upbeat about future developments in Western Europe and Germany in particular. The outlook for rail freight traffic in Eastern Europe is slightly worse than for Western Europe.

A similar situation is expected in intermodal traffic: here, too, the outlook for transport volumes in the first six months of 2016 is cautiously optimistic. Expectations regarding volume were recently lowered for Eastern Europe, and are well below those for the Western European market.

North Range

North European coast where in the broadest sense all large continental ports from Le Havre to Hamburg are situated. Among the four largest ports are Hamburg, Bremen ports, Rotterdam and Antwerp.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.