Pi­raeus port be­comes Med’s third big­gest in con­tainer traf­fic

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ILIAS BEL­LOS

Thanks to greater-than-ex­pected an­nual growth, the port of Pi­raeus last year be­came the Mediter­ranean’s third largest in terms of con­tainer traf­fic.

Kathimerini un­der­stands that Pi­raeus Con­tainer Ter­mi­nal (SEP), the lo­cal sub­sidiary of China’s Cosco, han­dled 2.52 mil­lion twenty-foot equiv­a­lent units (teu) at ter­mi­nals II and III in Pi­raeus in 2013, against an es­ti­mate of 2.4 mil­lion teu. When that is added to the 644,000 con­tain­ers han­dled at Ter­mi­nal I, op­er­ated by Pi­raeus Port Au­thor­ity (OLP), Greece’s big­gest port han­dled a to­tal of over 3.16 mil­lion con­tain­ers last year.

SEP posted a 20 per­cent in­crease last year, on top of the mas­sive 77 per­cent rise recorded in 2012, when it han­dled 2.1 mil­lion teu, and, along with the 626,000 con­tain­ers han­dled at Ter­mi­nal I, helped Pi­raeus be­come the fastest­grow­ing port in the world. The dock op­er­ated by OLP only reg­is­tered a 3 per­cent in­crease within the last year.

Once Cosco’s new in­vest­ment at the western sec­tion of Ter­mi­nal III is com­pleted, the ca­pac­ity of the whole of Pi­raeus port will grow from a cur­rent an­nual 4.2 mil­lion teu to 6.2 mil­lion teu, with ex­perts fore­cast­ing that Pi­raeus could be­come the big­gest com­mer­cial port in the Mediter­ranean by 2016. In 2012 Pi­raeus ranked fourth, with Valencia in first place, han­dling 4.46 mil­lion teu. Another Span­ish port, Al­ge­ci­ras, was in sec­ond and Tur­key’s Am­barli in third.

The prox­im­ity of Pi­raeus to Suez, which is the point of en­try for Asian prod­ucts to Europe, and

Pi­raeus to Suez, which is the point of en­try for Asian prod­ucts to Europe, and its rail in­ter­con­nec­tion with the con­ti­nen­tal net­work, saves six days for prod­ucts on their way to Cen­tral Europe. its rail in­ter­con­nec­tion with the na­tional and con­ti­nen­tal net­works, saves some six days for prod­ucts on their way to Cen­tral Europe, mak­ing it the gate­way of choice for Asian trade. And bear in mind that this is tak­ing place dur­ing a pe­riod when traf­fic at North­ern Europe’s three big­gest ports – Rot­ter­dam, Ham­burg and An­twerp – is on the wane.

A sec­ond com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage for Pi­raeus is its car ter­mi­nal, which is al­ready show­ing ma­jor growth. The Mediter­ranean is a key Euro­pean en­try point for ve­hi­cles from Ja­pan, South Korea and In­dia, so Pi­raeus is a top- choice tran­sit center for cars, too, while Euro­pean Union car im­ports from Ja­pan through the East­ern Mediter­ranean and the Black Sea are on the rise.

In the years af­ter 2010 Pi­raeus has man­aged to record pos­i­tive growth rates in car han­dling de­spite the rag­ing fi­nan­cial cri­sis, dur­ing a pe­riod when ri­val ter­mi­nals in Italy have ei­ther ceased op­er­at­ing (Gioia Tauro) or are record­ing a de­clin­ing course (Livorno). In 2012 the Car Ter­mi­nal of Pi­raeus Port Au­thor­ity posted an in­crease of 9.8 per­cent in traf­fic from 2011, and a rise of 66 per­cent from 2009.

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