Port of Rotterdam grows mainly through container transports

27/06/2005 12:33

The port of Rotterdam is the key main port of the Netherlands together with Schiphol. Although the direct contribution of the Rotterdam harbour region to the Dutch economy has been decreasing slightly, the region still generates some 8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The goods transhipment in the port of Rotterdam grew substantially in 2004. The greatest impulse came from container transport. Container traffic with China has seen a major increase in recent years. The port of Rotterdam is still well ahead of its direct competitors Hamburg and Antwerp.

Direct contribution of the port of Rotterdam to the Dutch economy decreasing gradually

The direct contribution of the Port of Rotterdam (Rijnmond region) to the Dutch economy in the period 1987-2002 has been decreasing gradually. Its share in the total Dutch employment fell from 8.3 to 7.6 percent. The share in the gross domestic product (GDP) also decreased, from 8.7 to 7.9 percent. The share of the other Dutch main port, Schiphol (Greater Amsterdam) to GDP increased by 0.5 percent points to 11.2 percent over the same period.

Share of Rijnmond region in GDP and labour volume
Share of Rijnmond region in GDP and labour volume


Container transport growing fastest of all

Traditionally the bulk of the cargo in the Port of Rotterdam is oil and oil products. In 2004 this commodity group made up 39 percent of the total weight in goods. Ores and metal residues are also key traditional cargos for the Port of Rotterdam. In 2004 these made up 12 percent of total weight. The share of containers in the total Rotterdam cargo shipment was over 23 percent in 2004. The first containers entered Rotterdam in 1966. Container cargo mainly consists of piece goods such as textiles, toys, furniture and food products.

The transhipment of goods in de Port of Rotterdam grew by an average of 2.2 percent a year in the period 1998-2004. About 55 percent of the growth rate came from container shipping, which increased by an average of 5.8 percent a year. Transhipment of oil and oil products grew by an average of 1.8 percent a year. Ores and metal residues fell by an average of 0.3 percent a year. It was a good year for the Port of Rotterdam. In 2004 total transhipment of goods increased by an average of 8 percent on 2003.

Development in goods transshipment in the port of Rotterdam (weight)
Development in goods transshipment in the port of Rotterdam (weight)

Growing container traffic with China

Over 16 percent of the total container traffic in 2004 was with China (including Hong Kong). The average growth rate of containers from and to China in the period 1999-2004 was over 17 percent a year. In the second half of 2001 and the first few months of 2002 the growth rate was close to zero, mainly because of the slowdown in world trade expansion. Trade with China has since increased strongly. In 2004 the growth rate averaged even 38 percent on the previous year. The advance in container traffic with China is closely related to the explosive growth of the Chinese economy in recent years.

Development of container transshipment in the port of Rotterdam (incl. weight container)
Development of container transshipment in the port of Rotterdam (incl. weight container)

Rotterdam stays the largest cargo port in Europe

In 2004 almost 353 million tonnes of goods were transhipped in Rotterdam. This is more than its three biggest competitors in Europe put together. Rotterdam has been the largest European port for years, in fact it was the largest port in the world for a long time. In 2004 Rotterdam dropped to a third place worldwide behind Shanghai and Singapore. These ports are no direct competitors, however, since the serve different areas than Rotterdam.

Rotterdam has also been the largest container port in Europe for years. However, Hamburg and Antwerp are not really much smaller. Rotterdam saw a higher growth rate than its two main competitors in 2004 though. Worldwide Chinese Hong Kong had the largest container port in 2004. Rotterdam was seventh.

Rotterdam's main competitors in the transshipment of goods
Rotterdam's main competitors in the transshipment of goods