Total throughput in the Port of Hamburg in the first six months of 2013 reached 68.1 million tons (+ 3.5 percent). Both on imports and exports of general and bulk cargoes, results were positive. Totalling 46.5 million tons, the container handling that predominates in Hamburg as a universal port totalled 4.5 million TEU (20-ft standard containers), representing a 2.1 percent increase. On average, the largest seaports in the North European Range reported downturns of 0.4 percent in total throughput and 1.2 percent on containers handled. In other words, the Port of Hamburg can look back on above-average growth and strengthened its market position.
Responsible for the gratifying result on container handling were growth on the export side with a total of 2.2 million TEU (+ 2.6 percent) and stronger imports once again at 2.3 million TEU (+ 1.7 percent). At 3.9 million TEU, throughput of loaded containers was 2.4 percent higher. Having been reported as falling in the past two years in Hamburg, handling of empty containers stabilized at 600,000 TEU (+ 0.2 percent).
“Hamburg is further extending its position as Germany’s largest universal port and we are delighted that both general and bulk cargo handling contributed to the excellent throughput result,” says Axel Mattern, Executive Board Member of Port of Hamburg Marketing. At 47.4 million tons, general cargo throughput was up by 3.1 percent, while at 20.7 million tons, bulk cargo handling grew by 4.4 percent.
Hamburg’s seaborne cargo throughput profits from Baltic container services
As the Northern European cargo hub for seaborne foreign trade, Hamburg’s seaborne cargo throughput is on the whole profiting from 2013 growth in world trade put at 3.1 percent in the July forecast from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the very positive development of Baltic container services. A total of 1.1 million TEU were transported during the first six months of the year in container traffic between the Port of Hamburg and the Baltic region, representing an increase of 8 percent. Seven new feeder services in the Port of Hamburg offer additional transport capacity and boost the range of liner services to the Baltic. Offering more than 150 feeder sailings per week, Hamburg is the pivotal hub on container traffic with the Baltic region.
Slight growth expected for the year 2013 as a whole
Like the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA), Axel Mattern is still anticipating a nominal three percent increase in German exports this year. In the view of the Executive Board Member of Port of Hamburg Marketing, growth rates for the German export industry of recent years of the order of five percent and more are not to be expected. “Taking into account exports from the market regions in neighbouring countries, however, growth rates of between four and five percent in the Port of Hamburg‘s seaborne cargo throughput are possible. Even with faltering German imports, thanks to demand from neighbouring countries, I reckon with a stable trend in seaborne cargo handling,” explains Mattern. For the year 2013 he expects a total throughput figure of around 136 million tons (+ 4 percent) for the Port of Hamburg, and container handling of about 9.1 million TEU (+ 3 percent).
Infrastructure expansion remains urgently necessary
“Looking at the half-year figures, there can be no talk of a slowdown in the Port of Hamburg. Even if the days of double-digit growth for the ports of the North European Range may not return all that quickly, we in Hamburg should not relax or cease our efforts in planning, financing and implementation of infrastructure projects essential for Germany’s largest port and logistics base,” cautions Mattern. From his point of view, the contents of the Federal Government’s Seaborne Traffic Forecast, already published in part, stress that modernization is urgently required, and expansion of infrastructure is essential. Mattern points out that without adequate capacity for arriving and departing traffic, any growth for the Port of Hamburg on the scale envisaged in the potential forecast in the Port Development Plan (HEP), or of the size envisaged in the Federal Sea Traffic Forecast, will be inconceivable. “Against the background of frequently no longer functioning and/or adequate infrastructure, we must rapidly find a solution to the problem that in Germany more than 80 major investment projects in the infrastructure field are blocked by citizens’ objections, problems on financing or political blockades,” stresses Mattern. Among the infrastructure projects currently blocked is the adjustment of the navigation channel on the Lower and Outer Elbe of such crucial importance for the Port of Hamburg. “If the infrastructural projects so essential for the Port of Hamburg are not implemented promptly and in line with requirements, that will have repercussions on the further development of the port and German foreign trade. Our globally structured economy requires an efficient Port of Hamburg that is easily accessible from both land and water,” demands Mattern.
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