The economic impact to trade from the coronavirus continues to felt by the ports around the world. The port of Amsterdam is reporting declines for its volume and for transshipment in the seaports in the North Sea Canal region, which includes Amsterdam, IJmuiden, Beverwijk, and Zaanstad.
For the first half of the year, Amsterdam reported a 12 percent decline in volumes to just under 40 million tons. Transshipment volumes in the North Sea Canal ports fell in total nearly 11 percent to under 50 million tons for the first half of 2020.
“For the first time in years we have seen a reduction in the transshipment in our port, and it is a significant one,” said Koen Overtoom, CEO of Port of Amsterdam. “However, we are not pessimistic. In the first half of the year, we have shown in difficult conditions how crucial the port is for the region and for the country. As vital infrastructure, we have continued to manage shipping traffic and to handle cargo flows, without letup. We have thereby contributed to keeping the country and the economy running."
Amsterdam’s decline volume in the first six months was attributable to both liquid and dry bulk as well as and containers. The transshipment of liquid bulk fell by more than five percent coming mostly from segments of the fuel market. The port, however, reported that it was starting to see a recovery in fuel shipments. The shipments of food and packaged goods had also remained strong throughout the period.
The volume of dry bulk fell by over 20 percent due in large part to declines in coal shipments which were down by more than 40 percent. The transshipment of grains also fell by 15 percent, and a further 18 percent reduction in break bulk. Container transshipment volumes were also down by nearly a third in the first half of 2020.
“It is hard to say what the second half of the year will look like. The fuel market is too fickle for that, and the impact of the coronavirus is uncertain. We do anticipate that in the current conditions the shortfall in volume for the year as a whole, will remain limited to the level that we have seen in the first six months," says Overtoom.
In addition to the declines in cargo, Amsterdam was also greatly impacted by the travel restrictions and the suspension of the cruise industry. In January and February, the port had 18 passenger ship visits but only three more in early March before passenger services were suspended. The port reopened for passenger operations in mid-June.
Since the port resumed passenger service, Amsterdam reports that the number of visits from river cruise ships is increasing slowly and cautiously. They expect more river cruise ships will sail from the port in the second half of the year but currently anticipate that they will not see any larger, ocean cruise vessels in the second half of the year.
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