Shipping was the main mode of transport in a majority of Member States in 2015, according to Eurostat – Cyprus being in second place in the 28 member states rank.

Eurostat data show that the highest shares of trade in goods with non EU countries carried by sea were recorded in Portugal (81% of trade value), Cyprus (80%), Greece (77%), Spain (74%), Malta (67%), Italy (61%) and Finland (60%).

Shares of over 50% were also reported by the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Denmark and Germany. At the opposite end of the scale, maritime transport was less significant in the extra  EU trade in goods of the Czech Republic (12%) and Luxembourg (19%), followed by Ireland and Latvia (both 27%), Austria (31%) and Croatia (35%).

Maritime transport plays, in general, an essential role in the international trade in goods of the European Union (EU). In 2015, the value of EU trade in goods with third countries (non EU countries) carried by sea was estimated at close to €1,777 bn, accounting for about 51% of EU trade in goods. In detail, 53% of EU imports entered the EU by sea, while shipping represented 48% of EU exports to third countries.

The use of maritime transport for EU trade in goods has slightly increased over the past ten years: in 2006, less than half (47%) of the EU trade in goods with third countries was conducted by sea. Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg, all located on the North Sea coast, were the top 3 EU cargo ports in 2014, accounting together for almost a fifth (19.2%) of the gross weight of goods handled in EU ports.

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