Hamburg Set to Profit from Free Trade Deal with Canada

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By The Maritime Executive 2017-11-16 20:49:14

The Port of Hamburg says that it is seeing more containerized freight than ever, and its marketing organization believes that the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) free trade deal will provide an additional boost for seaborne trade.

Once ratified by individual EU countries, CETA will simplify the process of transatlantic trade. Customs dues will be scrapped on 98 percent of goods traded, and import and export restrictions will largely be discarded. Alignment of industry standards for many goods will also make trading easier.

With a trade volume of about $75 billion, Canada is among the EU’s top ten trading partners. Germany’s trade with Canada totals about $16 billion, and Canada takes 13th place among the Port of Hamburg’s trading partners for container transport. In the first nine months of 2017, Hamburg handled 144,000 TEU in container traffic with Canada, representing a 20 percent increase over the same period last year. 

More mega-containerships and continued draft restrictions on the Elbe

With calls by containerships with slot capacities of between 14,000-18,000 TEU up by a third and those by even larger vessels (18,000-20,000+ TEU) up by nearly 90 percent, the number of ultra-large containerships calling the Port of Hamburg is on the rise. These include recent calls by the mega-carriers MOL Trust (20,170 TEU) and Munich Maersk (20,568 TEU).

The port’s leaders see the delays in dredging the Elbe fairway as the main reason behind sluggish growth in container traffic. The largest containerships cannot arrive and depart Hamburg fully loaded on account of draft restrictions, and the port has long sought permission to deepen the Elbe channel by one meter. “Adjustment of the fairway is essential for Hamburg and should at last be put into effect . . . Mega-containerships will be able to bring/take away an additional 1,600 and more containers (TEU) per call to/from Hamburg,” said Ingo Egloff, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. “It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to explain to the port’s international customers how we are still having to wait for implementation of fairway dredging despite the qualified planning approval granted in 2012 and the February 2017 decision of the Federal Administrative Court.”