Europe’s Busiest Port Sees Major Slowdown Due to COVID-19


Europe’s busiest port, Rotterdam, is planning for further contractions in container volume due to the outbreak of coronavirus that has sickened millions around the world.

The Port of Rotterdam plans to see container shipping volume decrease by as much as 20 percent over the next 8-10 months as a consequence of the coronavirus and its reductions in global commerce and trade. The port recently warned that this decrease is “very likely” to occur and could disrupt much of the 2020 calendar year.

In Q1 2020, the Port of Rotterdam saw throughput cargo volumes decrease by nearly 5 percent. In Q1 2019, nearly 3.7 million TEUs moved through Rotterdam, while in Q1 2020, just over 3.5 million TEUs of throughput cargo were processed through Rotterdam. This decrease was nearly all due to global economic contractions caused by the coronavirus.

Additionally, the Port of Rotterdam announced that tonnage decreased just over nine percent between in Q1 2020 versus Q1 2019 last year. In 2020, just under 124 million tons were handled, down significantly from last year. The decrease is due to Rotterdam’s heavy reliance on Asia trade, with a majority of the port’s cargo coming from Asian ports.

Furthermore, the Port of Rotterdam believes the worst disruption from the COVID-19 crisis is yet to come.

Given that the coronavirus had only widespread impact in Asia during January and February, the effects being felt by the Port of Rotterdam are only liken to worsen as the second quarter of the year continues. The coronavirus has now spread through Europe (in March) and the United States and Latin America (in March and April.) This is likely to affect container volumes for Q2 2020 even more and lead to an accelerated decrease in the port’s container volumes.

At this point, only time will tell how much worse the situation at Rotterdam will become. And, it is too early to say if the downturn for the Port – and many other ports across Europe and the world, will peak anytime soon. The Port of Antwerp recently announced decreases in its container volumes, and some of the U.S.’s largest ports have seen container volumes plummet, too.

The entire team here at MTS Logistics will keep our readers posted on all further developments related to the coronavirus situation and the subsequent effect on the global economy. Stay tuned for further updates.