Polish consumers could save money and the Polish Government earn billions of zloty in extra import duties if the bulk of container traffic from the Far East was directed through Polish ports rather than through German and Benelux ports, according to Boris Wenzel, CEO of the Deepwater Container Terminal in Gdansk.
A switch to Gdansk would also create thousands of new jobs in the Tri-city and reduce the high Co2 emissions associated with trucking and railing containers to Poland from ports like Rotterdam and Hamburg, believes Mr. Wenzel.
“Over the past decade Hamburg and Rotterdam have taken advantage of Poland’s rapid economic growth to develop into this country’s largest container gateways“ says Mr. Wenzel. “Now is the time to reduce Poland’s dependence on foreign ports and to look to the east and the south in developing a major hub port here in Gdansk”.
Since it opened three years ago, DCT Gdansk has become the largest container port in Poland, capable of handling the largest vessels in the world with a capacity of 15,500 containers. Sailing time from China and Korea, where a significant share of Poland’s imports of consumer goods are sourced, is just 36 days. With the port infrastructure in place Boris Wenzel believes DCT Gdansk and other Polish ports should be positioned as the prime gateways not only to Poland but to the CEE and other countries, like Ukraine and Russia, replacing German and other ports as the region’s gateways. Figures from Ocean Shipping Consultants Ltd show that shipping a container from Shanghai to Warsaw via Gdansk costs some 28 per cent less than through Rotterdam and 20 per cent less than through Hamburg.
“Today Polish consumers are paying more for imported goods than they should, and Polish exports are less competitive because of higher transport costs to reach foreign hub ports. This is foolish now that Poland has its own hub port in Gdansk”. Shipping through other ports in the European Union also means that Poland loses duty revenues worth billions of zlotys, which could reduce Poland’s budget deficit, since duty is levied at the port of entry into the EU. Further development of DCT Gdansk could also lead to the creation of 10,000 new jobs in the region by the end of the decade.
But to realize the full potential of Polish container ports, says Mr. Wenzel, the government needs to work with stakeholders and urgently address bureaucratic, financial and infrastructural bottlenecks, which continue to make foreign ports attractive to both importers and exporters in Poland. Priority should go to infrastructure development to efficiently connect Polish ports to the southern and eastern parts of the country, instead of supporting West – East connections that make Poland a corridor for foreign ports to reach further CEE destinations.