Port of Hamburg hit hard by recession but eyes rebound

By: | at 07:00 PM | Channel(s): International Trade  Ports & Terminals  

The downturn in box volumes, especially from Asia, impacted the Port of Hamburg’s third-quarter numbers, but there may be the hint of a rebound.By George Lauriat, AJOTUnquestionably, the current global recession is the most serious economic crisis of the post war-era. No trading country has been spared and German boxports have lost ground. Despite the falling box numbers, there are indications that the worse may be behind, and a rebound beginning.
Claudia Roller, the chairwoman of Port of Hamburg Marketing (the marketing organization of the Port of Hamburg), in her remarks on the third quarter explained, “The dramatic effects of the global economic and financial crisis did not hit the cargo-handling operations at the Port of Hamburg until the second half of 2008.” So, while the figures are disappointing, the recession started a little later in the Port of Hamburg than other areas. Roller noted in her analysis of the first three quarters of 2009, that cargo handled at the Port of Hamburg amounted to 82.8 million tons, down 24.6 million tons compared with the same period of last year. The nine-month tally represents a decline of nearly 23%. The Port of Hamburg’s box business, which is heavily weighted on imports from Asia to destinations in Eastern Europe, the Baltic nations and Russia, hit 53.6 million tons (5.3 million teus) off nearly 28% compared to the same period last year. The Asian trade lane posted a total volume of 3.1 million teus down 25.5% over the first nine months of 2009. This is a reduction of about 1 million teus compared with the same period of the last year.
Despite the overall disappointing numbers, there were some positive signs that business might be improving. On the export side, the total volume of 8.9 million tons in bulk goods such as suction cargo, grab cargo and liquid cargo was surprisingly up 19% for the first three quarters of 2009. With a volume of 2.8 million tons, exports of grain more than doubled over this period. Exports of liquid sea-borne cargo were also up 12.5% at 3.6 million tons.
In reviewing the figures, Roller says that the initial signs of growth from the manufacturing industry and stronger demand for German exports, primarily from Asia, provided the first indications heralding an improvement in foreign trade.
The next major development for the Port of Hamburg is the Central Terminal Steinwerder (CTS). At the moment, numerous qualified concepts for the development of the 125-hectare site are currently being evaluated, and the best proposals will be announced in February. However, the dredging of the Elbe is still a challenge.
Jens Meier, Managing Director of the Hamburg Port Authority, said, “What will still be of utmost importance for the port-related industries is the absolute necessity to upgrade the fairway in the Outer and Lower Elbe, which will benefit not only the Port of Hamburg, but the entire region and all the export-oriented sectors of the German and European economies.”

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American Journal of Transportation