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Spanish ports traffic record in 2017 despite the stowage conflict

Caralb News   •   March 3, 2018

According to Nahaira S. Alonso from El Pais, 46 Spanish ports coordinated by Puertos del Estado closed 2017 with an average growth of 6.96% and a total of 545 million tons of goods movements. The increase has occurred in a year marked by the conflict of the stowage. The dispute, which arose as a result of the liberalization of the sector undertaken by the Government to the demands of the European Commission, led to strikes in June and has not yet been resolved without the Ministry of Public Works approving the regulations for the development of the Royal Decree of Stowage.

Bahía de Algeciras port, the first in the country in terms of volume, closed the year with the highest traffic (101.5 million tons), but was one of the most affected by the conflict in the sector and reduced traffic by 1,67% compared to 2016. It joins seven other ports that recorded declines. In terms of number of movements, it is followed by Valencia, which remained the second most important in the country with 73.5 million tons, but only grew 2.93% over the previous year, when a higher increase was expected.

On the other hand, Barcelona was the one that grew the most in merchandise volume managed last year, with 61.4 million tons, 26.2% more than a year before. This facility was benefited by the transfer of traffic from the port of Valencia in the first months of the year due to the strikes announced by the stevedores on those dates. In this case, it was not affected because the stevedores of Barcelona reached individual agreements with the companies and called off the strike before their main competitors.

The conflict, which began in February, is currently at a standstill between the unions of the stevedoring and employers Anesco pending the regulation for the development of the Royal Decree of Stowage, scheduled for the coming weeks. However, for five months and until last June 29, when they finally reached a principle of agreement, the longshoremen made stoppages that they said were going to harm the sector. Thus, in June, the month in which the strike days of the stowage were concentrated, negative figures were registered with decreases of 0.6% in general merchandise, of 1.6% in goods in transit, of 3% in containers in transit and 4.6% in container traffic.

However, these stoppages were carried out selectively in ports and terminals, so their impact on port traffic was very uneven. Thus, while the port of Algeciras and that of Valencia recorded losses of 20.4% and 5.2% in that month, respectively, that of Barcelona had a rise of 9.3%.

Growth continues in 2018

The upward trend in merchandise traffic has been maintained at the beginning of 2018. Thus, total merchandise traffic exceeded 46.2 million tons, 10% more than the previous year. According to data from Puertos del Estado, this growth has been due to the boom in bulks, both solid, with a growth of 16.7%, and liquids, 11.7%.

“If this rate of growth is maintained, it seems very likely that the forecasts made by the Port Authorities that estimated that the current year could be closed with total traffic close to 550 million tons, can be exceeded,” explains the agency.

Please, visit El Pais for more information.