by Marek Błuś and Przemysław Myszka
It is probably owing to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine that the regional general cargo traffic (315.94mt) was dethroned volume-wise by liquid bulk (337.62mt) last year.
The decrease could be felt across the board, though to varying degrees. The ro-ro & ferry cargo part contracted the least (-3.6% year-on-year to 153.29mt), while containerised freight - expectedly the most (-16.8% yoy to 83.75mt).
With its -3.9% yoy to 78.89mt, the break-bulk market was closer in dynamics to the former.
Counted in units, the 2020 Baltic ro-ro traffic was flat (-0.2% yoy to 11.5m), whereas boxes here, too, suffered from a double-digit dwindling (-11.2% yoy to a notch below 10.1m TEUs).
Naturally, the heaviest 'container punches' were dealt to Russian Baltic ports. Interestingly, the country's intra-Baltic intercostal cabotage traffic of wheeled cargo benefited from such a situation (but here, Russia could count on its own modern ro-ro tonnage to do the job).
Overall, the future truck & trailer traffic to, from & within the Baltic (with a pinch of railcars) will most likely be driven by economic trends rather than the ongoing war.
On the other hand, container trade seems a much more 'political' likewise 'reputational' affair - that sanctions directly impact St. Petersburg and Moscow's consumption/production. At the same time, carriers (some of them at least) continue to write trading with Russia off, not wanting to harm their businesses elsewhere.
In the meantime, passenger traffic advanced by a wholesome 54.6% yoy to 94.7m. The market is still behind the pre-pandemic level of almost 120m, and certain companies had to reorganise their fleets substantially (to put it mildly).
That said, spanking-new tonnage has recently caught the wave, leaving potential travellers with even fewer arguments against boarding one of the Baltic stunners.
And, as always, you'll find more numbers to crunch on in our Baltic Yearbook, including details on particular seaports.Download PDF