In an exciting development, the Greek port of Piraeus is poised to claim the top spot, surpassing the renowned port of Valencia as the largest port in Europe regarding container handling. Piraeus exhibited remarkable growth in the first four months of 2023 and outperformed its competitors.
From January to April 2023, the combined container handling at berths I, II, and III of Piraeus reached an impressive 1.610 million containers. Notably, in April 2023, the container traffic from berths II and III of Piraeus container station experienced a significant increase of 24.5% compared to the same month in 2022, with a total of 369.2 thousand containers handled. This surge contributed to a 1.8% growth in container traffic from January to April 2023 compared to last year's corresponding period. In total, 1.420 million containers were handled in the first four months of this year, surpassing the 1.394 million handled in the same period in 2022. Additionally, an impressive number of at least 190,000 more containers were handled during the same period at Pier I.
Despite the positive outlook, analysts remain cautious due to the global economic landscape, which continues to be challenging. Factors such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and rising global inflation have affected international trade, and stability is yet to be achieved.
Cosco Shipping Ports, a part of the Cosco Shipping Group, reported a 3.2% increase in general container handling across 35 ports in April 2023 compared to April 2022. The recovery was particularly evident in Shanghai Pudong Terminal and Shanghai Mingdong Terminal, which exhibited strong performance after being adversely affected by the Covid pandemic last year.
The overall annualized data from April 2023 to April 2022 showed a 2.2% decrease in total container handling at ports controlled by Cosco Shipping Ports, excluding subsidiaries. Despite this slight decline, a substantial volume of 31.9 million TEUs was handled in April 2023.
In contrast to Piraeus' success, the port of Valencia has experienced a decline in container handling during the first quarter of this year. As the port ranking just one position above Piraeus on the list of largest ports in Europe in 2022 (Valencia being fourth and Piraeus fifth), Valencia recorded a decrease of 11.94% in TEUs handled between January and April 2023 compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, in April 2023, the port handled 17.10% fewer containers compared to April 2022.
However, rail traffic from the port of Valencia has shown positive growth, with a 15% increase in the receipt and shipment of 8,744 TEUs (equivalent to 141,000 tons) to the docks in the first four months of this year, compared to the previous year.
China remains the primary trading partner for the Port of Valencia, closely followed by the United States. Notable increases in cargo traffic have been observed, with countries such as Mexico (+22.3%), Egypt (+22%), India (+18.1%), and Senegal (+17.6%) contributing to the port's growth.