Haropa suffered in 2023 from the drop in trade and strikes

Haropa Port, the public establishment managing the first French port complex (Le Havre, Rouen and Paris) since 2021, has not escaped the slowdown in trade and the war in Ukraine which are hitting all major European ports. After those of Marseille-Fos (− 7%), the 2023 results, published Monday January 29, show a decline of 4.5% in traffic (containers, hydrocarbons, cereals, solid bulk, etc.), to 102 million tonnes, after a year 2022 marked by the post-Covid-19 recovery.

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“Overall, Haropa didn’t hold up too badly. We have maintained our market share”nuance Stéphane Raison, chairman of the management board of Haropa Port, in an interview with World. The year begins with heavy uncertainty: the fallout from the crisis in the Red Sea, which forces shipowners to avoid the Suez Canal and pass through the Cape of Good Hope, extending the duration of the voyage from Asia and the ‘Europe. It will disrupt the activity of many ports for weeks, even months, if prolonged.

The strikes in the first quarter of 2023 against the pension reform diverted traffic to ports with a calmer social climate, amplifying the cyclical decline in activity in Le Havre, which accounts for 75% of Haropa’s activity. The Norman port handled 2.63 million containers, far from the record of 3.1 million recorded earlier. “We lost 100 ship calls and 200,000 containers due to strikes”notes Mr. Raison.

Spectrum of decommissioning

Cereals, exported from Rouen, fell by 14%, after an excellent year in 2022. Solid bulk, mainly made up of construction materials, lost 11%. On the other hand, the two refineries on the Seine axis and the floating regasification platform of TotalEnergies in Le Havre supported the liquid bulk activity (+ 5%). In addition, cruises are doing well (+9%).

Because, on the quays of Le Havre, where the specter of decommissioning still looms, we are fighting not to lose sight of Antwerp-Bruges (Belgium) and Rotterdam (Netherlands), the giants of the “Northern European range”, which handle five times more containers, while four out of ten “boxes” to or from France still transit through foreign ports.

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Mr. Raison is pleased that the Italian-Swiss shipowner MSC has increased its investment to 1 billion euros in a new container ship terminal announced in 2022. After the extension of the quays carried out by Haropa Port, the world number one ordered nine gigaportal cranes and developed the platforms to receive in 2025 ships carrying 24,000 “TEUs” (20-foot equivalent containers, the unit of measurement for shipowners).

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