AMSTERDAM, March 18 (Reuters) – The Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest, expects the flow of goods over the whole of 2020 to be “clearly below 470 million tonnes last year” as the coronavirus epidemic spreads across the continent, spokesman Leon Willems said on Wednesday.
The outbreak of the virus in China had been seen cutting 2 million tonnes off monthly goods traffic. The impact will be far greater as Europe’s economy is hit, Willems said.
“We had said that every month the outbreak continued in China that would trim 2 million tonnes off cargo throughput. We now also have lower economic forecasts for the EU, indicating a contraction of 1% instead of 1.5% growth. So, for the whole of 2020, we will be considerably below the initial forecasts,” Willems said.
At the same time, Willems said the port was fully operational, with no closed companies or business on lockdown. He said Chinese cargo arrivals were expected to pick up now that the virus there was easing.
The port was revising forecasts to incorporate the latest European growth projections. An update was expected in April.
Total throughput at Rotterdam had already flatlined at 469 million tonnes last year as slowing international trade halted many shipments from Asia in the last months of 2019. (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, editing by Louise Heavens)(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.