July 25, 2019 / 11:29 AM / a month ago

Rotterdam port traffic hits record, but slowdown expected

FILE PHOTO: Stockpiling ahead of Brexit is seen in a warehouse in Rotterdam, Netherlands March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Trade volumes at the port of Rotterdam reached a record in the first half of the year, as Europe’s largest port handled more container goods and imports of oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The Dutch port was cautious about prospects for the rest of the year, however, as international trade tensions and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit look set to curb traffic in the months to come.

“Relations between the world’s major trading blocs remain strained and there is ongoing uncertainty about the introduction of trade tariffs post-Brexit”, port CEO Allard Castelein said on Thursday.

“Given the global uncertainties, the Port of Rotterdam Authority expects a slight weakening of the growth in cargo throughput in the second half of 2019.”

The Rotterdam port, which handles around 40 million tonnes of goods to and from Britain every year, has repeatedly warned about the consequences if Britain does not secure a negotiated withdrawal from the European Union, fearing massive traffic jams and a weakening of international trade.

Castelein said in March the port had created emergency overflow parking spaces for up to 700 trucks, in anticipation of backups caused by Brexit.

Total throughput in Rotterdam grew 3.4% in the first six months of the year, to a record 240.7 million tonnes, as container traffic increased 5%. Rising imports of U.S. oil pushed crude oil traffic up 3%.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter

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