The port of Rotterdam is one of the four most important ports in the world and Europe's leading container port. Transfer volumes are increasing and this also applies to the size and the capacity of the container ships.
The construction of Maasvlakte 2 is Rotterdam's explicit response to the strong demand for extra capacity in this sector. Of the projected surface area of some 1,000 ha of new industrial site, 600 ha has been reserved for container terminals. Situated directly on the North Sea and with deep port basins - with a depth of up to -20 m NAP (New Amsterdam Water Level) - Maasvlakte 2 forms the ideal location for the swift handling of the very largest vessels (12,500 containers and over). Container shipping companies are bringing more and more of these mammoth ships into service. Maasvlakte 2 will be one of the few European ports where these ships can dock 24 hours a day.
Cargo transfer picked up again in mid-2009, and in 2010, this recovery continued at a high pace. In 2010, the volume of transferred goods in the Rotterdam port equalled that of 2008, before the economic crisis.
Rotterdam is one of the key players in global trade. If there is a decline in global trade, this has its effect on Rotterdam, and vice versa. In the last quarter of 2008, the economic slump started to affect the Rotterdam port. The economic development had a strong impact on the transport of containers between Asia and Europe, which experienced a modest decline as a result. However, container transport between Europe and North and South America saw a sharp increase, with a growth of some 9%. This meant that the Port Authority could look back on a record turnover in 2008, and a 3% growth in container transfer. In the first quarter of 2009, container transfer volumes dropped substantially (-18%). Ultimately, 2009 was a difficult year for the port, with an 8% drop in the total transfer volume.
The construction of Maasvlakte 2 is based on a medium to long-term outlook. The economy is always subject to cyclical trends. Recent economic developments are therefore not expected to have a substantial impact on Maasvlakte 2's operation from 2013 on.