This year, 328 million (metric) tons of cargo was handled in the port of Rotterdam, an increase of almost 2% compared to 2002. The former record year 2000
was beaten with 6 million tons (mt). The provisional figures of the largest port of the world were presented by its CEO, Willem Scholten. "There are record for the total, chemicals, ro/ro and containers. In containers Rotterdam broke through the barrier of 7 million TEU as first port outside Asia. Investments by the companies are staying on a high level. The extension of the port, creation of the Second Maasvlakte, came much closer. Taken everything together it was a fine year in which also the basis was laid for future expansion."
The increase of throughput is attributable to the handling of agricultural bulk (+10.7%), coal (+2.1%), other dry bulk goods (minerals, phosphates, building materials) (+8.4%), crude oil (+4.6%), other wet bulk (chemicals, edible oils) (+4.4%), roll on / roll off
(+10.8%), other general cargo (+12.6%) and containers. The latter rose with 8% from 6.5 million TEU in 2002, to 7 million TEU. Less iron ore and scrap (-3.7%) and oil products and petcocks was handled. In total, bulk goods remained stable (238 mt) and growth was generated by the three categories of general cargo: 8.3% to 90 mt. Total inbound traffic increased with 2.4%, or 6 mt, to 255 mt. Outbound traffic remained stable, - 0.5%, on 73 mt.
Two of the port's spearheads, containers and chemicals, performed well again. Other liquid bulk (mainly chemicals) has been on the increase since the early 1980s. In 1999 the top years started, with 2003 crowning the series with a record 25.7 mt (+4.4%). Exports were down slightly (-0.5%), while imports rose considerably (+7%).
The handling of containers was up 8%, from 6.5 to 7.0 million TEU. The growth inbound (9%) exceeded outbound (6.5%) and was greater in the first six months than the second. Rapidly growing countries and regions are England and Ireland, Central and South America and Asia. Container traffic with Asia rises with some 20%, with China some 30% and incoming from China even some 40% The number and frequency of "feeder connections," primarily with England and the Baltic, are increasing. This is set to continue in 2004.