At 70 million tons, first-half seaborne cargo throughput in Hamburg in 2017, including the general and bulk cargo segments, all but matched the previous year’s, being one-fifth of one percent (0.2 percent) lower. In the first six months of 2017 containerized general cargo throughput at 4.45 million TEU (20-ft standard containers) was at the previous year’s level. Up by one percent at 23.5 million tons, bulk cargo throughput in Germany’s largest universal port continued to grow.
“In the first half of 2017 the Port of Hamburg generally succeeded in asserting itself in a difficult environment, producing a stable result compared to other German ports in the North Range,” said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.
Mattern stressed that container volumes in Hamburg are based on a very differing throughput trend for Hamburg’s two major container terminal operators in the first half. “Here one company was able to profit considerably better than the other from the very extensive changes so far implemented on container liner services. These caused shifts in market shares in Hamburg. Alterations in shipping company alliances and schedules often make an impact on throughput volumes and container terminal utilization in the ports. In addition, fresh container handling capacities in the Western ports being put on the market for the first time cause volume increases as they come on stream, and then at the expense of other ports make a one-time impact reflected in their first-half results,” added Mattern.
Other factors also had an influence on the volume trend for Hamburg’s container throughput in the first half. For example, the still not implemented adjustment of the navigation channel on Outer and Lower Elbe, as well as delays currently occurring in Customs clearance of imports, is causing a noticeable quantity of freight to find its way via other ports in the North Range. “That is also most regrettable from the Hamburg angle, since had background conditions been better, a substantially more positive throughput balance for the first half would have been feasible. In the light of the throughput trend at non-German ports in the North Range, that once again clearly illustrates the urgent need to strengthen the Port of Hamburg’s competitiveness and performance,” Mattern said.
In the first six months of 2017 container throughput at 4.45 million TEU was at the previous year’s level. Throughput of loaded boxes at 3.8 million TEU (up 0.3 percent) reflected a positive trend. By contrast, handling of empty containers was 3.2 percent lower at 622,000 TEU. “That shipping companies tend to route empty boxes for weight reasons via other ports is partly because with the adjustment of the Elbe fairway still not implemented, mega-containerships still cannot be optimally loaded if calling at Hamburg. Once the channel is dredged, mega-ships will be able to bring additional 1,600 and more containers (TEU) to Hamburg and take that many again on departure,” Mattern said.
These cargo capacities cannot at present be fully used by particularly large ships calling at Hamburg. “Against this background, it is gratifying that the upward trend in container transport with China is being maintained. Especially large containerships are deployed on this, and 1.3 million TEU represented a 1.3 percent gain. Also on the up and up is Russia, the Port of Hamburg’s second most important market after China, with 225,000 TEU constituting a four percent advance despite the sanctions that remain in place unchanged,” Mattern said.
In tough competition with other ports, container trades within Europe reached 1.3 million TEU, up by 1.3 percent. Here the main contributors to growth were the Baltic trades with countries such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, achieving a 12.9 percent advance to 255,000 TEU. “It is very interesting to see that the Port of Hamburg’s 10 leading container trade partners, accounting for around 60 percent of its container handling with 2.7 million TEU, recorded a 3.5 percent downturn, whereas the other countries achieved 5.3 percent growth to 1.8 million TEU. Vietnam was one of these, attracting attention with double-digit growth; as a marketing organization, we are focusing especially on the country by arranging delegation trips and cultivating the market there,” Mattern said.
With bulk cargo handling in Hamburg, totaling 23.5 million tons and up by 1 percent in the first half, trends for imports and exports differed. On the import side, a first-half total of 16.8 million tons meant a 1.3 percent downturn. Among exports, bulk cargo throughput was very strong at 6.7 million tons, up by 7.4 percent. The fall in imports was caused by a 10.3 percent drop in throughput of suctions goods to 1.9 million tons, and one of 9.5 percent to 4.9 million tons in throughput of liquid cargoes. Among the reasons were above-average throughput volumes there in the comparable period the previous year, which in the first half of 2017 again settled down at a normal level. Up by 5.6 percent at 10 million tons, in the first half the grab cargo segment remained the Port of Hamburg’s strongest bulk cargo handling area. Imports of coal and coke at 3.9 million tons (up 7.4 percent) and of ore at 5.2 million tons (up 4.0 percent) were above the previous year’s. Steeper demand from power stations and the steel industry caused the higher throughput. At 6.7 million tons (up 7.4 percent), bulk cargo exports developed positively. Trends differed in the various segments. A harvest-related fall in grain exports, down 8.9 percent at 1.9 million tons, pushed these below the previous year’s total. Export throughput was higher for liquid cargoes, up 27.5 percent at 2.2 million tons, and for the grab cargo segment, 8.5 percent ahead at 2 million tons.
First-half non-containerized general cargo throughput, of plant elements and wheeled cargoes for example, remained below the previous year’s, being down 11.7 percent at 720,000 tons. On the import side, down by 0.8 percent at 271,000 tons, growing throughput in the form of paper and metals imports failed to offset slight downturns for timber, citrus fruit and vehicles. Dispatches of conventional general cargoes were down 17.2 percent at 449,000 tons, the mainly cause being lower exports of vehicles and steel.
The Port of Hamburg’s half-annual press conference was held at Aurubis, the largest copper smelter in Europe. Ingo Egloff and Axel Mattern, Port of Hamburg Marketing’s joint CEOs, made special mention of the port’s significance for industry throughout the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. Germany’s third largest industrial region profits from an efficient port with excellent worldwide links. With a land area of 7,200 hectares, arithmetically one-tenth of the entire area of the city, with its function as a logistics cargo hub for seaborne foreign trade the Port of Hamburg is also Hamburg’s largest industrial zone. “Currently industry uses 926 hectares in the Port of Hamburg. That is around 22 percent of the land area of the port,” Egloff said. “The proximity to water sufficiently deep for oceangoing vessels is advantageous for such industrial concerns as steelworks, refineries and power stations, owing to the short distances involved in cargo handling and processing large quantities of raw materials.”
The Port of Hamburg is Germany’s largest universal port and guarantees more than 155,000 jobs in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The port is also an important industrial base, and with added value totaling €21.8 billion ($25.5 billion), it is of immense importance for the entire German national economy. For the whole of 2017, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing organization reckons with seaborne cargo handling of 138 million tons and container throughput of around 8.9 million TEU.