Annual Report 2023

Sector development

Development of container throughput by region

in %










Asia as a whole










Europe as a whole


- 3.3


- 3.5

North-West Europe


- 7.4


- 4.8

Scandinavia and the Baltic region


- 4.2


- 7.9

Western Mediterranean


- 4.6


- 1.2

Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea




- 1.6

Source: Drewry Maritime Research; December 2023

Following a decline in the first half of 2023, global container throughput was noticeably resurgent in the third quarter – usually the strongest period – and surpassed expectations. According to the latest Drewry estimates, higher growth rates are also expected for the fourth quarter – although it should be noted that this growth is relative to the low prior-year figure. In December 2023, the market research institute anticipated stagnant throughput volumes for the year as a whole, whereas it had previously expected a slight decline.

However, this upward momentum did not manifest itself in all shipping regions. In Asia, the world’s highest-throughput region, growth is expected to reach 2.1 % in 2023. In China, growth at container ports slowed compared to 2022. The latest estimates indicate that container volumes rose by 2.5 % in 2023.

By contrast, the Europe shipping region suffered a sharp drop in throughput. According to Drewry estimates, container volumes at European ports decreased by 3.3 % overall in 2023, with ports in north-western Europe affected most volume losses of 7.4 %.

Container throughput in the leading ports of Northern Europe

in million TEU













- 7.0 %







- 7.2 %







- 6.9 %

Bremische Häfen





Source: Port Authorities

The trend among the major container ports of the North Range, as well as the largest ports of the Baltic Sea, was mixed. Europe’s largest container port, Rotterdam, handled 13.4 million TEU in 2023 – 7.0 % fewer containers than in the previous year. Container throughput in the port of Antwerp-Bruges fell by 7.2 % to 12.5 million TEU in the reporting period. In the Port of Hamburg, throughput volume was 6.9 % down on the previous year at 7.7 million TEU in 2023. The year-on-year decline in throughput at the JadeWeserPort in Wilhelmshaven was as much as 22.2 % to 531 thousand TEU in 2023.

At the time of preparing this report, throughput figures for the Bremen ports were not yet available for 2023 as a whole – in the first eleven months, however, there was a decline in throughput of 9.6 % to € 3.8 million.

The Polish port of Gdansk recorded a slight year-on-year decrease in handling volumes of 1.0 % to 2.1 million TEU in total. Following the sharp decline in 2022 as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions, container throughput at Russia's Baltic Sea ports returned to growth with an increase of 12.9 %.

Traffic in Germany by modes of transport

in %





Transport volumes


- 5.9


- 1.1

Road traffic


- 6.0


- 1.2

Railway traffic


- 4.5



Multi-modal traffic


- 6.2



Traffic performance


- 4.3


- 0.5

Road traffic


- 4.2


- 0.5

Railway traffic


- 4.6



Multi-modal traffic


- 5.5



Source: Floating medium-term forecast for freight and passenger transport (Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure); September 2023

The study for freight and passenger transport commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport was last published on the basis of data from September 2023 and reflects the outlook for 2023 as a whole. The study forecasts a sharp downward trend across all modes of freight traffic in Germany in 2023. Transport volumes are expected to decrease by 5.9 % year-on-year, while traffic performance – transport volume multiplied by the distance travelled – will decline by 4.3 %. This falling demand affects all modes of transport. Road transport volumes are likely to be down by 6.0 % year-on-year. According to the study, traffic performance is poised to decrease less dramatically with a year-on-year decline of 4.2 %. Rail transport looks set to decline by 4.5 % after a slight increase in the previous year. Traffic performance will decline by 4.6 %. A significant decline in growth is also expected for intermodal transport. Volumes are likely to be 6.2 % up and performance 5.5 % down on the previous year.

Intermodal/Intermodal systems
Transportation via several modes of transport (water, rail, road) combining the specific advantages of the respective carriers.
TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit)
A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.

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