Rotterdam port chalks up new record

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Rotterdam, Europe's largest container port and among the world's top 10, said Thursday it recorded a new record throughput of 433 million tonnes, despite the continent's economic downturn.

"The transshipment for 2011 has increased by 0.8 percent to 433 million tonnes for 2011. That is three million tonnes more than in the previous record year of 2010," said a statement.

"Despite the unfavourable economy and a fall in turnover since November, it's the ninth time in 10 years we can chalk up growth," added Hans Smits, Rotterdam's chief executive.

Increases in the transshipment of agricultural products (18 percent), coal (12 percent) and containers (10 percent) was offset by a decline in the turnover of crude oil (8.0 percent) and scrap metal (6.0 percent).

The port said it has beefed up its position in trade between Asia and Europe notably thanks to facilities to handle ships carrying 10,000 to 15,000 containers "more easily than the competition."

"The harbour's transshipment is strongly linked to the development of relevant world trade and German industrial production," Smits added.

"Based on this, we expect to maintain current levels next year," he added, saying "I expect that we'll have the European confidence crisis behind us by the second part of next year."

The port said it expected "reasonable growth" for 2013.

Rotterdam was ranked as the 10th-largest container port last year, based on 2009 container figures according to The Economist, with Singapore and Shanghai occupying the first and second place respectively.

© 2011 AFP

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