Why 2017 is a crucial year for the port of Rotterdam
Rotterdam will once again gain ground, says Bart Kuipers, port economist at the Erasmus University.
‘In 2017 we can finally say how the port is actually doing. 2016 was a year for ‘training’, to be able to compete with other ports in 2017,’ says Kuipers.
Last year, the cargo throughput decreased with 1,1 percent. According to Kuipers, this was caused by the implementation of ‘futuristic facilities’ on Maasvlakte 2. ‘Rotterdam has the most modern terminal in the world. Because of robotisation the productivity is much higher than in for example Antwerp. But Rotterdam suffered some teething problems.’ The port of Antwerp profited from these initial challenges.
For 2017, Kuipers predicts that Rotterdam will once again gain ground in its battle with its rival Antwerp. ‘Lately the port has started to master its computer directed terminals. The last quarter saw an increasing number of ships, which is hopeful.’ The following two years, expects Kuiper, Rotterdam will take back part of Antwerp’s growth.
However, it’s not all rosy. Kuipers’ long-term expectations are less optimistic: in the coming 20 years, transport by container will decrease. Because of the new railway from China to Europe, the ‘New Silk Road’, transportation by land will gain ground. ‘Plus trends like the sharing economy, which makes us produce less cars, and 3D-printing, which makes us produce more things close to home, will play their part in the demand for international products.’
Besides that, the protectionist measures that US President Trump is taking, as well as the Brexit, can put pressure on international trade. ‘These are bad times for container transport. The best companies suffer a lot of losses, big ships leave half empty. The underlying factors are structural factors in the world economy. The multinational model is in decline.’
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