2016 port freight statistics are encouraging

According to the Department for Transports recently published 2016 final figures, total freight tonnage handled by UK ports declined by 3% in 2016. This decline is attributable to a large reduction in demand for coal imports. Despite this, steady growth has been experienced in unitised traffic, which saw its fourth consecutive year of growth in 2016.

* total tonnage decreased by 3% to 484.0 million tonnes
* coal handled showed the biggest decline of any cargo category more than halving to 12.0 million tonnes
* liquid bulk goods, which account for 40% of total tonnage, decreased by 2%
* crude oil handled has halved since 2000, to 87.1 million tonnes
* unitised traffic rose by 2% to 24.1 million units
* container units reached a record high of 5.9 million units
* overall roll-on roll-off traffic rose 1.4% to 18.2 million units
* the volume of import and export motor vehicles increased 1% to 4.5 million units
* 18.2 million Ro-Ro units passed through UK major ports via roll-on roll-off services, up 1.4% compared to 2015.
* 10.2 million TEUs of LoLo container traffic passed through UK major ports in 2016, up 4% from 2015. Felixstowe had a 0.3% increase to 24.8 tonnes.
* Maritime freight with the European Union grew 2% to 206.8 million tonnes in 2016, and accounted for 44% of all tonnage through UK major ports.

In 2016, major port tonnage fell whilst minor port tonnage increased . There are 51 major ports in the UK. UK major port tonnage fell by 3% in 2016 to 472.8 million tonnes. The major port share of UK port tonnage has remained stable at 98% since 2005. Minor port tonnage increased to 11.3 million tonnes, an increase of 3% on the previous year.

Overall domestic major port traffic – coastwise and one-port – fell to 98.6 million tonnes in 2016, a drop of 5% from 2015. However, one- port traffic, rose 13% to 20.0 million tonnes in 2016.

The proportion of domestic traffic c carried by UK registered ships increased 3% in 2016, to 23.5 million tonnes. This makes up 24% of all UK domestic traffic.

Imports made up 56% of all tonnage handled between the UK and EU countries. UK major ports received 116.6 million tonnes from countries in the EU in 2016, an increase of 4% compared to 2015. Among EU countries, the highest amount of imports was from the Netherlands, 31.5 million tonnes, 10% higher than 2015. Freight received from ports in the Netherlands now makes up over a quarter of all inward tonnage from the EU.

In contrast, exports from the UK to the EU fell 1.6% between 2015 and 2016, down to 90.1 million tonnes. This is due, in part, to a fall of 11% in exports to both France and Germany, primarily driven by falling liquid bulk imports. In contrast, exports to Italy nearly doubled to 1.8 million tonnes, with an increase in crude oil imports from 0.4 million tonnes in 2015 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2016.

Container traffic with the European Union rose 8% in 2016 to 2.0 million units. In terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), container traffic rose 9% to 3.6 million TEUs.

Container traffic between the UK and International deep sea destinations rose to 5.3 million TEUs, up 3% from 2015.
China is our largest partner for container traffic in 2016, resulting in 2.5 million TEUs, up 3% from 2015. This makes up 47% of all deep sea LoLo handled by UK ports. Second place is taken by the USA which contributes 0.4 million TEUs to our container traffic; this is 8% of all deep sea LoLo trade.

The full report can be found here