Europe making headway but global trade flows weakening

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Magnus Kårestedt, President and CEO
Magnus Kårestedt, President and CEO
Magnus Kårestedt, President and CEO

During 2013, ro-ro traffic through the Port of Gothenburg rose for the first time in three years, however, the number of containers shipped through the port fell by 5%.

The figures for freight volumes for 2013 has just been released and showed around 30% of Swedish foreign trade passes through the Port of Gothenburg, the largest port in the Nordic region. For the last couple of years, the trend for European flows has been in decline although global trade figures have remained more stable.

During 2013 the trend was reversed – ro-ro traffic, which accounts for a large proportion of freight movements in Europe, increased for the first time since 2010 with 557,000 ro-ro units in total being shipped, up 4% on 2012.

“We have spoken for a long time about the trend in European trade bottoming out. We can now see the first indications for a long time that Swedish industry is increasing its trade with other countries in Europe, which is extremely pleasing,” said Magnus Kårestedt, Port of Gothenburg Chief Executive.

Unfortunately, container movements at the Port of Gothenburg do not reveal the same positive trend as ro-ro traffic with 858,000 TEU shipped last year – down 5% on 2012.

“This is the first time since 2009 that global trade flows through the port have fallen. We are hoping to see a recovery in 2014,” said Mr Kårestedt.

Last year 163,000 new passenger cars passed through the Port of Gothenburg and during the first half of the year, volumes fell by 18% but a strong 24% recovery during the autumn meant that volumes for the year remained unchanged compared to 2012.

Passenger traffic was up 1% during 2013, the year-end figure standing at 1.7 million. Stena Line accounts for the largest proportion of traffic by far with its daily services to Fredrikshavn and Kiel. The number of cruise vessels has risen substantially in recent years although 2013 was something of an off-year with just 39 visits compared to 69 in 2012.

“Happily, bookings for 2014 and 2015 are looking very good. This year we will set a new cruise record with 70 visits and 120,000 passengers,” said Mr Kårestedt. 

Gothenburg also has the largest Energy Port in the Nordic region with half of Sweden’s crude oil imports passing through the port. Products include petrol, diesel, asphalt and a range of other products. In total, 2.4 million tonnes of energy products were handled during 2013, a fall of 8% compared with the previous year. The decrease can be attributed largely to the fall in crude oil imports. Petrol volumes also increased during the year.