Containerized imports to major North Europe ports dropped by nearly 7 percent in the fourth quarter and are expected to rise less than 3 percent in the current quarter, according to the North Europe Global Port Tracker report.
"Austerity and trade growth do not mix, as 2012 is not shaping up to be a good year, or at least the first half is not," said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, which produces the report with the Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics.
Europe's recession is dragging down container shipping revenue along with port traffic. Ship lines are trying to raise rates to overcome losses on the world's busiest trade lane for container shipments. For instance, Maersk Line said a 19-percent drop in Asia-Europe rates was largely to blame for the carrier's $602m loss last year.
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