Journal of International Logistics and Trade
Jungseok Research Institute of International Logistics and Trade

Forecasting Container Throughput: A Method and Implications for Port Planning

P.W. de Langen*
1Erasmus University Rotterdam
*Corresponding author: Port economist, Department of Regional, Port and Transport Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000 DR Rotterdarm, The Netherlands Tel: 0031104081845, e-mail:

© Copyright 2003 Jungseok Research Institute of International Logistics and Trade. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Dec 31, 2003


This paper analyses the determinants of transport demand for maritime container transport. Such an analysis is relevant, among others for port planning, since port expansion plans are based on forecasts. Inevitably, different opinions about the future development of (container) transport flows exist, and decision-makers are confronted with uncertainty. This paper analyses the variables of container transport demand. Seven variables are identified, four related to the overall volume of trade and international transport flows (the GDP, export quote of economies, the direction of trade and the value density of trade) and three related to the containerised proportion of transport flows (the containerisable share of transport flows, the containerisation rate and the share of shipping in international trade). The rise of containerised transport flows from 1980 to 1995 is based on different ‘underlying factors’. The future development of the variables is highly uncertain, and a ‘extrapolation’ of the high growth rates of the past, is not likely to lead to a good forecast for the future. Thus, decision-makers confronted with the uncertainty about future trade flows, should try to maximise flexibility in port planning.