Containerisation in North Europe to 2015

North European containerport demand has expanded rapidly over the past decade, despite some slowdown in the pace in 2001. Growth has been driven primarily by trade expansion, further conversion to containerisation and – most importantly by the continuing push for globalisation. The strongest growth has been in the deep-sea sector and this has placed increasing pressure on infrastructure investment, particularly in the port and intermodal sectors.

Despite this expansion there have been major uncertainties. Questions include:

  • How confident can we he about medium-term demand projections – is globalisation unstoppable or is there a significant downside in demand forecasting? What will be the effect of slower expansion since end-2000?
  • The pace of capacity additions – how will greater port demand he reconciled with increasingly vociferous environmental opposition?
  • Terminal productivity has improved sharply – what does this mean for future greenfield port developments?
  • What will be the role of transshipment – how important is this in securing front-rank port status?
  • How will competition from Mediterranean hub ports affect the North European market?
  • How rapidly will demand increase in Eastern Europe and how can deep-sea north-continent ports develop market share?
  • Ship sizes are still increasing and will continue to do so – what will be the effect on major river ports?
  • What will be the role of the principal international stevedoring companies in the European market and how will this affect productivity and pricing?
  • The related search by the major lines for dedicated terminal capacity is another important issue – how will this develop?
  • The EU is increasing its role in the port sector – what will be the potential effects on the highly efficient container terminal industry?

This major new study examines these issues, and represents essential and informed evaluation of this strategically vital sector.

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This provides a comprehensive summary and conclusions for the study.


After nearly four decades of expansion, can the containerised trades continue their pattern of rapid growth? This Section seeks to answer this question by analysing factors which could limit expansion. The changing structure of the containerport industry is also considered, covering such issues as increasing vessel size and port depth, dedicated terminals, transshipment, intermodal links, competition from Mediterranean ports, environmental issues, the role of international stevedoring companies and EU directives.

The Section also reviews the broad macroeconomic framework within which trade in containerised goods has expanded, and illustrates the relationship between GDP growth and containerport demand growth for North Europe.

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