Hamburg Sees 8% Growth in Seaborne Cargo Handling

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

After a somewhat subdued upward trend for the first three months of the year, the Port of Hamburg now reflects signs of significant growth once again. The total of 89.4 million tons of cargo handled in the first three quarters of 2010 represents an increase of eight percent over the same period of the previous year. On the import side, Port of Hamburg Marketing – the marketing organization of the Port of Hamburg – recorded cargo-handling figures of 51.8 million tons (+11.8 percent). Exports via Hamburg also recorded a positive trend with 37.6 million tons (+3.3 percent). General cargo, the dominant segment in Hamburg, showed marked growth of 8.6 percent, with a total of 60.2 million tons handled. The bulk cargo segment also contributed to the growth in the total volume of cargo handled at Germany’s biggest universal port with 29.2 million tons (+6.9 percent) for the first nine months of this year.

In September alone, some 744,000 TEU were handled. This corresponds to an increase of 25.1 percent and represents the best ever monthly container handling figures recorded since November 2008. The positive trend in container handling in Hamburg also reflects Germany’s much improved overall economic situation. According to preliminary forecasts by the German Federal Statistical Office, German exports for September 2010 were up 22.5 percent year-on-year, and imports were 18.0 percent higher than in September 2009.

After a difficult first quarter, container handling at the Port of Hamburg emerged from the crisis over subsequent months, and an evaluation of the figures for the first nine months of the year points to a return to double-digit growth of 10.7 percent. The container terminals at the Port of Hamburg handled a total of 5.9 million TEU (20-ft standard containers) in the first three quarters of 2010. The decline in empty containers handling, a result of the temporary relocation of a number of feeder service during the crisis year of 2009, has now been arrested. In the first nine months, 912,000 empty containers (TEU) were handled in Hamburg, 15 percent more than in the same period of 2009. Figures for the handling of loaded containers (TEU) show a stable upward trend even for those first nine months, with growth recorded at 9.9 percent and five million TEU handled.

One reason for the growth in container handling is the resumption of the China and Asia services which the shipping companies had temporarily suspended during the financial markets and economic crisis. Added to this are numerous new full-container and feeder services, like the FAL-5 service operated by the two shipping companies CMA CGM and Maersk Line, and the concentration in Hamburg of the Baltic Sea feeder services operated by the TEAM LINES shipping company, all of which resulted in a major increase in the volume of container handling in Hamburg.

In the first nine months of this year, container traffic to and from Asian regions grew by 13 percent compared with the same period last year, to a total of 3.5 million TEU. Container trade to and from America amounted to 587,000 TEU (+13.9 percent), the Africa route recorded 150,000 TEU (+25.7 percent), and the European feeder and short-sea services, an important segment for Hamburg, totaled 1.6 million TEU (+3.7 percent).

Handling of non-containerized general cargo reached 1.9 million tons (+4.8 percent) in the months from January to September 2010. This growth is largely due to an increase in exports of project cargo and vehicles, which were up by 22.9 and 15.4 percent, respectively.

“The cargo-handling figures for the first three quarters of 2010 indicate that the strongly performing container segment in particular recorded double-digit growth on almost every trade route. Bulk cargo handling figures over the first nine months benefited from a massive boost in iron ore imports: they almost doubled in volume compared with the same period of the previous year, to 6.7 million tons, an increase of 91.2 percent,” said Claudia Roller, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. Iron ore imports shipped via Hamburg are destined for Germany’s steel industry, where production has already reached about 83 percent of full capacity in response to a marked jump in demand after the crisis year of 2009. Handling of iron ore and other grabbable cargo, a segment especially hard hit by the effects of the crisis last year, has recovered strongly and is almost back to 2008 levels. The suction cargo segment recorded 4.7 million tons in total, falling short of the previous year’s result (-21.5 percent). The throughput of liquid cargo totalled 10.2 million tons (-4.6 percent).

For the year 2010 as a whole, Claudia Roller expects an increase in container trade of more than 11 percent up to nearly 8 million TEU in the Port of Hamburg. The total volume of seaborne cargo handled in the year 2010 as a whole is likely to confirm the positive trend of the first nine months, to reach more than 120 million tons, representing growth in a range between eight and nine percent.

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