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The economic uncertainty has started to slow down the recovery of the Cargo volumes in the Baltic Sea

​Strong recovery in the Baltic Sea ports in 2010

The cargo that was handled in the Baltic Sea ports increased by 9%, and was 809 million tons in 2010.  The total cargo volume handled by the ports increased in all Baltic Sea countries except for Denmark and Latvia. The growth was strongest in Poland (+32%) and Estonia (+20%).
 
In general, international imports grew more than exports, because import volumes had suffered the most from the economic downturn in 2009. Imports increased by 14% and exports by 6% in the Baltic Sea ports.
 
Measured in total cargo volumes, Sweden regained its leading position in the Baltic Sea. Its share was more than a fifth. Sweden was closely followed by Russia, where volumes are largely composed of oil exports.
 
There was growth in the volumes of all cargo types in international traffic in 2010, but especially in other than bulk cargoes (+17%). This class includes for example containers, where the volumes increased the most (+27%). Liquid bulk cargoes still clearly formed the largest share of cargo volumes handled in the Baltic Sea ports, with a total volume of 305 million tonnes or 1 per cent more than in the year before. Dry bulk cargoes in international traffic were handled 190 million tonnes, which was 12% more than the year before.
 
Despite the strong growth, total volumes were still 2% or 17 million tonnes less than in the peak year 2007. Other than bulk cargoes were the furthest behind peak volumes. In 2010, other than bulk cargoes were handled eight percent less than in 2007, and dry bulk 4% less. Instead, in liquid bulk cargoes the peak volumes were reached in 2010.
 
The three biggest ports in the Baltic Sea remained to be Primorsk, St. Petersburg and Gothenburg. Most of the ten biggest ports were located in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea, and four of these were located in the Gulf of Finland.

The growth is slowing down this year

In 2011 economy has developed favourably in all the Baltic Sea countries. Especially the first half of the year seemed encouraging, but towards the end of the year the expectations for growth have weakened.
 
After summer general uncertainty in global and European economy started to weaken both companies’ and consumers’ trust towards economic growth significantly. Recovery from previous downturn caused by global financial crisis has still been going on in the Baltic Sea region.  Each country around the Baltic Sea  has proceeded somewhat at  its own pace when it comes to economic growth. A good example of this are the differentiated GDP forecasts for this year. GDP growth for the nine Baltic Sea countries together is forecasted to be 3.3% this year and 2.3% next year (IMF forecast, September 2011).
 
The amount of maritime cargo traffic in the Baltic Sea kept rising during the first half of the year. Total volumes handled by the 20 biggest ports increased appr. 7.5% in January-June, year-on-year.
Cautious growth expectations for the year 2012
 
According to the new Baltic Port Barometer, the ports have cautious, yet optimistic, expectations for the year 2012. Modest growth is expected in cargo volumes in 2012, but at the same time the expectations are overshadowed by the prospect of new economic downturn. 
 
However, expectations for the year 2012 are clearly more cautious compared to predictions given the year before for the year 2011. Baltic Port Index (BPI), which gives an overview of the ports’ expectations for the year to come, has halved from last year. BPI is now at 21 (last year at 50), meaning that the ports’ expectations have weakened compared to previous year, but expectations are yet positive.
 
The volumes of all cargo types are expected to increase in the Baltic Sea, but expectations for bulk cargoes are more modest compared to non-bulk cargoes. Non-bulk cargoes include for example containers and Ro-Ro traffic. Within this group growth is expected especially in containers.
Annual market data package 2011
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