The Port of Gothenburg continues to maintain high volumes across most cargo segments, despite the ongoing economic slowdown both globally and domestically. This is evident from the Port of Gothenburg’s cargo volume report for the first half of 2023.

“This outcome can primarily be attributed to the Swedish export industry, which continues to deliver. Generally, we observed a significant dip in imports during the first quarter, which is a logical consequence of reduced Swedish purchasing power and increased caution. However, import volumes have gradually stabilized during spring and summer. As we look ahead towards autumn, we see further recovery on the import side and continued pressure on exports,” says Claes Sundmark, Vice President Sales and Marketing at the Gothenburg Port Authority.

Over half of Sweden’s container transports are handled in the Port of Gothenburg – the majority at APM Terminals’ container terminal. Despite the past half-year’s economic slowdown with increased interest rates and inflation, the number of handled containers at the port has increased. A total of 446,000 TEUs* were handled at the port during the first half of 2023, representing a 3 percent increase compared to the same period the previous year.

“It is certainly gratifying for us to see the port’s volumes increasing despite uncertain times. However, since the Port of Gothenburg is gaining market share from other ports, our increased volumes do not necessarily reflect the current economic conditions, even though it is normally a good indicator,” says Claes Sundmark.

Approximately 60 percent of the containers transported to and from the port’s inland destinations are transported by rail, a figure that few other major international ports achieve. However, maintenance work on the Sweden’s railway infrastructure during the first half of the year and limited opportunities for extra trains have negatively impacted volumes. These factors, along with decreased import volumes, led to a 9 percent decrease during the first half of 2023. This is in comparison to the same period in 2022, which was a record year for rail-borne containers at the Port of Gothenburg.

The number of handled vehicles at the Port of Gothenburg increased by 12 percent during the first half of the year. Both imports and exports are rising, and the port maintains its position as Sweden’s largest vehicles port by a significant margin.

Intra-European ro-ro volumes decreased by 6 percent during the past half-year. Like the container segment, it’s primarily lower import volumes that are the main reason for the decrease.

Cruise activity at Gothenburg Port is heading towards another record season with over 90 scheduled calls. During the past half-year, the number of calls increased by 32 percent. The number of ferry passengers also continued to rise. 636,000 passengers during the first half of the year marked an 18 percent increase.

The handling of conventional dry bulk vessels continued to rise as well. A total of 199,000 tons of dry bulk were handled, representing a 5 percent increase compared to the first half of 2022. Behind this increase lies primarily the export of forest products and building materials.

The handling of energy products in the port decreased by 12 percent compared to the same period the previous year. Investment and maintenance stops at refineries, along with an unfavorable storage market, are the main factors behind this decrease.

Port of Gothenburg Throughput, First Half of 2023

Jan-June 2023 Jan-June 2022 %
Containers, TEU 446 000 433 000 3%
Rail, TEU 234 000 257 000 -9%
Ro/ro units 277 000 295 000 -6%
New vehicles 137 000 122 000 12%
Passengers 636 000 538 000 18%
Cruise calls 33 25 32%
Energy (million tonnes) 9 11 -12%
Dry bulk (tonnes) 199 000 189 000 5%

*A TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) corresponds to a twenty-foot container.