Med ports surpass northern Europe in container transport
Nineteen Mediterranean ports have surpassed a container volume of 1 million TEU, and ports in both the northern and southern Mediterranean have overtaken those of northern Europe in terms of container transport volume, according to the 5th annual Italian Maritime Economy report by the Mezzogiorno Study and Research Centre (SRM), presented in Naples.
Since 2008, northern Europe has lost six percentage points of market share, dropping to 40%, while the Mediterranean has gained five points, thus surpassing the north with a 41% market share.
The doubling of the Suez Canal has registered record growth, with more than 900 million tons transited in 2017, up 11% on 2016, and 17,550 ships.
In addition, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will activate about 1.4 trillion dollars in infrastructure spending, 4.1 billion of which SRM said is Chinese investment spending on Mediterranean ports and terminals.
In addition to Italy, the BRI involves Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Infrastructure investments will go to building and strengthening maritime projects as well as roads, airports, and railways.
In 2017, investments focused on the port of Valencia, and the SRM report said this allowed China to “conquer an important stronghold in the western Mediterranean, following that of Piraeus in the east and the port of Zeebrugge in northern Europe”.
In the last 20 years, container traffic in the Mediterranean has grown by 500%, and the top 30 Mediterranean ports have reached 53 million TEU, compared to just 9 million TEU in 1995.
Southern Mediterranean ports in North Africa and Turkey are leading the growth.
Between 2004 and now, these ports have significantly reduced the competitive gap between ports in the northern Mediterranean, from a 26-point divide in 2004 to just six points today.
SRM Director-General Massimo De Andreis said the report shows “signs of growth in the centrality of the Mediterranean in a global geo-economic context, as well as the strengthening of routes with Asia”.
“In addition, Ro-Ro traffic, in which Italy excels, has had a surge of 40% in the Adriatic and 15% in the Tyrrhenian,” De Andreis said.
“Italy can greatly benefit from these situations, but urgent investment is needed in railway-port connections, in intermodality, and in more efficient port logistics,” he said.