IMDO reports shipping volumes down for first half of 2008

Containers at portKey Indicators

Roll On/Roll Off container volumes      - 4%  
Lift On - Lift Off container volumes       - 3%
Bulk volumes                                        - 8%


 The volume of cargo transported through ports in the Republic of Ireland fell during the first half of 2008, according to the mid-year analysis of traffic volume carried out by the Irish Maritime Development Office. (IMDO)  

The latest data indicated a fall in container traffic volumes compared to the same six months of 2007, with both key market segments in load-on/load-off (lo/lo) traffic declining by 4 per cent and roll-on/roll-off traffic (ro/ro) slightly less, with a decline of 3 per cent. This is the first decline in shipping volumes for more than a decade as the Irish shipping market adjusts to the current economic cycle and market conditions.  

The traffic figures show that the volume of imports declined sharply by 4 per cent compared to 12 per cent growth over the same period last year. A major drop in imports from China was particularly evident with some operators indicating a reduction in volumes by as much as 20 per cent. The major shipping lines from Asia have also reported an 11% fall in capacity utilisation on west bound traffic, down to 89% for first 6 months. This is largely attributed the fact that the supply of shipping and container capacity has caught up with the breakneck demand from the region over the past 4 years, this has also impacted on the cost with freight rates falling on most Asia-Europe trades. High volume lower value imports from China to Ireland typically include white goods/electrical appliances, clothing and low value manufactured domestic consumables.  

The mid year shipping statistics appear to show a clear correlation with other recent trade data for which also indicated a reduction in the value of imports from China by 14 per cent. Weaker consumer sentiment and a fall off in domestic consumption compounded by a contraction in the housing market contributed to the decline.  

The ongoing effects of the credit crunch and wider issues impacting the broader international market, including the strength of the Euro, would appear to have contributed to weaker export volumes. The year began with a continuation of the deterioration experienced in export market conditions from the latter half of 2007, however, the traffic data for the 2nd quarter this year has indicated no further fall in export volumes with growth remaining static for this period.  

Elsewhere, the IMDO estimate that the bulk and breakbulk market segments have witnessed the largest overall declines of 8 per cent year on year to June, mainly attributed to a fall off in demand for construction related imports of steel, cement, timber and other building materials.  

The shipping lines servicing the Irish market were faced with the double challenge of declining volumes and rapidly rising fuel prices, which have increased by 105% per cent between June 2007 and June 2008. A number of operators have taken some corrective measures to off set the short change in demand in the market and rising fuel prices including reducing speed and frequency while some operators have opted to replace two or more smaller vessels with one larger more efficient vessel . The current drop in global oil prices will provide some respite for operators.  

IMDO’s analysis also shows that the ro/ro market provided 506 weekly services from Ireland to 14 ports in the UK and France and provide 26 million lane metres of capacity per week. 13 independent lo/lo operators  currently provide 76 sailings per week to 53 European ports. Rotterdam is the main destination, with 34 sailings from Ireland per week.  

Full details are available on     

For details of the analysis, please click here (PDF attachment 83KB)


Mid year 2008 traffic data: