Changing Tides: Economic Shifts Reshape Global Port Volumes


  • The balance of economic power is gradually shifting towards regional developments in South America and Asia, with mature consumer markets yielding to emerging economies.
  • Despite the global economic growth forecast remaining modest, the Asian economies continue to catch up, while Europe’s stagnation sees its ports decline in the volume table, making way for ports in the Middle East, India, and the Far East, where China retains dominance.

Global economic growth forecasts remain conservative, yet Asian economies are catching up, with European stagnation pushing its ports down the volume table. The emerging economies are showing robust demand, with China retaining dominance.

Trade Fluctuations and Regional Performance

World Trade Organization reports show a steeper than expected decline in world merchandise trade, with a forecasted increase in 2024 and 2025. While European and North American ports are experiencing a dip, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region are witnessing a surge in imports.

Impact on Major Ports

Although ports in consumer countries are experiencing a dip, developing regions see transitions in trading rules. Major US ports suffered last year, and European ports have lost significant volumes bound for Russia. As a result, Dubai has overtaken Rotterdam in the port league table.

Recovery and Alliance Influence

The North European market is in recovery mode. Rotterdam and Antwerp-Bruges have reported an increase in throughput in the first quarter of 2024. Major carriers like Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd are diverting routes, with Tanger Med emerging as a significant container port, surpassing Hamburg in volume.

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Source: Seatrade-Maritime