The Port of Hamburg has reported that during the first nine months of this year the Port handled 104.3 million tons of seaborne cargo. For Port of Hamburg, the excellent trend in container traffic is due in part to the CETA free trade agreement with Canada, which has provided an additional boost for seaborne trade.
Once ratified by the parliaments of EU countries, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada that provisionally came into force on September 21st will simplify foreign trade. Customs dues will be scrapped on 98 percent of goods traded, and import and export restrictions will very largely be discarded. Alignment of industry standards through standard regulations for many goods will also make trading simpler. Canada is among the EU’s Top Ten trading partners. Among the roughly one million tons of export freight shipped via Hamburg to Canada are chemical products, food and beverages, metals and metal products, as well as machinery, equipment and household appliances. Imports from Canada total around three million tons. Of these, Hamburg mainly handles ores, coal, agricultural products and food & beverages.
“On container throughput, a total of 6.8 million TEU (up 0.4 percent) represented a renewal of slight growth. For loaded boxes, we achieved a 1.2 percent increase to 5.8 million TEU,” said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. By contrast, handling of empty containers at 924,000 TEU was 4.3 percent lower than in the previous third quarter. Mr. Mattern mentioned the not yet implemented dredging of the Elbe fairway as one reason for the downturn in empty box handling. The Port of Hamburg’s market research indicates that restrictions on the Elbe applying to Hamburg plus limited tidal ‘windows’ are causing shipping companies are to use available slot space on their mega-containerships for loaded boxes as a matter of priority. Empty containers are increasingly being routed via other ports in Northern Europe.
“With the navigation channel adjusted, we could increase both container and bulk cargo throughput in Hamburg. We therefore continue to closely monitor the downturn in empty box handling. From the angle of value added, which on handling loaded boxes can be seen as higher for the port, our throughput of loaded boxes underlines Hamburg’s attractiveness as a Northern European hub port, “continued Mr. Mattern.
The number of particularly large containerships seen in the Port of Hamburg is further increasing, with most recently the Port seeing the maiden calls of mega-carriers MOL TRUST (20,170 TEU) and MUNICH MAERSK (20,568 TEU). Both Joint CEOs see the inability of mega-containerships to call and leave Hamburg optimally loaded on account of the still outstanding adjustment of the Elbe fairway as the main reason behind only slight growth in container traffic.
“Adjustment of the fairway is essential for Hamburg and should at last be put into effect. Higher draft and improved opportunities for passing on the Elbe will offer increased safety and flexibility for traffic control on the Elbe, also producing tremendous advantages for merchant shipping. Mega-containerships will be able to bring/take away an additional 1,600 and more containers (TEU) per call to/from Hamburg,” explained Ingo Egloff, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.