Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/05/2012 -- Following a year of increasing freight volumes, according to BMI's estimates, 2012 will signal further growth in all freight modes and a return to pre-downturn levels at Belgium largest port, Antwerp. Total trade is projected to pick up with our country risk desk forecasting a year-on-year (y-o-y) increase of 1.95% in 2012 following estimated growth of 5.65% in 2011.
Road freight should continue to dominate the sector and is projected to grow by 0.3% in 2012. The mode, however, did not manage to defy the downturn and so far appears to be struggling to recover its pre-2008 volumes.
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BMI notes that growth in inland waterway freight, the mode that made a major recovery in 2010, has slowed and will continue to experience moderate expansion over our mid-term forecast period.
Headline Industry Data
- 2012 Air freight tonnage is expected to grow by 3.3%
- 2012 Rail freight is forecast to grow by 0.3%
- 2012 Port of Antwerp throughput is forecast to grow by 1.5%
- 2012 Road freight is forecast to grow by 0.3%
- 2012 Inland waterway freight is forecast to grow by 0.4%
- 2012 Total real trade growth is forecast at 2.0%.
Key Industry Trends
Antwerp Welcomes World's Largest Box Ships, Upside Risk To Throughput
Despite posting a y-o-y growth in box throughput of 2.1% and recording a throughput of 8.66mn twentyfoot equivalent units (TEUs), the Belgian port was knocked into third place among the biggest ports in Northern Europe in terms of container throughput in 2011, as the German port of Hamburg regained second position, which it lost to Antwerp in 2009. Antwerp is fighting back however, and the fact it can now handle the largest box ships currently afloat offers upside risk to our 2012 throughput projections for the port and its potential to reclaim second place.
Should Hub Stay Or Should It Go?
US-based package delivery company United Parcel Service (UPS) has denied reports that it plans to close TNT's Liege hub in Belgium, following its EUR5.16bn (US$6.77bn) acquisition of the Netherlands-based logistics company. However, the head of UPS International said that some of Liege's business would be transferred to Cologne-Bonn.
Risks to Outlook
Belgium has enjoyed a robust economic recovery, but is heavily exposed to turmoil in the eurozone. A particular concern is the national debt that, at close to 100% of GDP, leaves Belgium vulnerable to a deterioration in risk sentiment and slowdown in economic growth.
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