Market Overview


    Sea transports are a fundamental part of international trade. Out of total global trade volumes, about 80 per cent is transported by sea. In the EU these transports are made by some 80,000 merchant vessels, which each year call at one of the Union’s ports. The three largest commercial ports in the EU are Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg.

    Popular trade routes

    The Baltic Sea region and its 100 million consumers are an integral part of the global sea transport system. The Baltic Sea enables trade among the countries of the region and has long been a strategic transport route for oil exports to countries in other parts of Europe and beyond.
    The Baltic is also one of the world’s busiest seas, with 15 per cent of global shipping traffic and 2,000 ships in movement at any given time. About 800 million tonnes of goods, including 10 million containers, are transported on this inland sea each year. The great majority of freight transported by sea across the Baltic is destined for ports outside the region.

    The eight EU states which border the Baltic Sea are home to some 2,900 companies operating in the shipping industry, which provides employment for 60,000–70,000 people. Including Russia, the Baltic trade takes in nine countries, with shipping-related trade accounting for most of the export value. In terms of transports within the region, the largest segments are dry and liquid bulk, which account for over half of the total volume. The second largest segments are RoRo and container traffic.

    Over the past ten years seaborne freight volumes in the region have increased by about 40 per cent. This increase is partly due to the growth in oil exports from Russia but ever increasing trade among the countries around the Baltic is another driver.  The regional economies have generally performed well in recent years, which is another factor behind the growth in freight volumes. And these volumes are expected to increase in future.

    Forecasts from the EU suggest that total goods traffic in Europe, which also includes land and air transports, is expected to increase by 40 per cent by 2030 and by 80 per cent by 2050. Regardless of the mode of transport, the EU puts a priority on efforts to improve the efficiency of transports with the aim of raising the overall competitiveness of the business sector. Currently transports account for 10–15 per cent of the cost of European companies’ finished products.

    Market trends

    One trend in the industry is for port operators to become increasingly global and broaden their base of operations. It is, for example, becoming more common for companies to engage in shipping as well as port activities. We are also seeing a gradual consolidation. Port operators are expanding geographically by acquiring ports, sometimes located far from their home markets. This gives rise to global operators, which run ports in countries in different continents.

    Another tendency is for large, global manufacturers to concentrate their distribution activities to hubs, from which products are distributed to a wider region, such as the Baltic Sea region. In this field CMP aims to continue to play a prominent role.

    Another emerging trend is towards an increase in rail freight. This is also leading to an increase in “combi” traffic where goods are transported by ship and connected railways. The mix between large and small vessels is also expected to increase. The trend towards larger ferries and container ships may spur an increase in local sea traffic where smaller ships transport goods between Swedish ports, for instance, or between ports in the Baltic Sea region.

    Environmental issues are also becoming increasingly important in the shipping industry. The primary focus is on ship emissions, especially of sulphur and nitrogen. In future new international agreements on environmental issues may redraw the map of shipping lanes and goods flows, which could have an impact on port operators in the Baltic Sea region. New types of fuel are also being assessed with the aim of cutting emissions in the shipping industry. One example is liquefied natural gas. Building infrastructure for storage and distribution of LNG is a priority issue in the EU. Several cities and ports in the Baltic Sea region are currently exploring opportunities for building infrastructure for LNG.