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Port Hamburg Cargo Handling Increases Again

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 18, 2010

Hit hard by the global financial and economic crisis in the year 2009, the Port of Hamburg reports total cargo-handling figures of 28.6 million tons for the first quarter of 2010, an increase of 4.6 per cent over the same period in the previous year. On the import side, Port of Hamburg Marketing – the marketing organisation of the Port of Hamburg – recorded cargo-handling figures of 16.7 million tons (+6.0 per cent). Exports via Hamburg also increased in comparison with the first quarter of 2009, with a total of 11.9 million tons (+2.7 per cent). General cargo handling, the dominant segment in Hamburg, returned to growth (1.1 per cent) with a total of 18.6 million tons. The bulk cargo segment contributed the lion’s share of the growth recorded in the first three months of this year, with 9.9 million tons handled (+11.9 per cent). 

With 1.8 million TEU (20-foot equivalent unit), container handling at the Port of Hamburg in the first quarter was still below the comparable figure for the first quarter of 2009 ( 4.0 per cent). However, figures for the handling of loaded containers (TEU) shows an upward trend for these first three months, with 1.6 per cent growth recorded. Only the handling figures for March, during which 642,000 TEU were processed in Hamburg, are once again well above the previous year's result, with an increase of 10.9 per cent. In the rail-borne traffic between the seaport and the hinterland, Hamburg Port Railway reported a rise of no less than 16 per cent for the first quarter of 2010, with 448,238 TEU carried. 

Some of the liner services to China and Asia that were suspended during the financial and economic crisis have gradually been resuming operations since April this year, and this will contribute to growth in the container-handling segment in Hamburg. In the first quarter of 2010, container transhipments with the Asian regions totalled 1.1 million TEU, just short of the previous year's result (–2.1 per cent). Container traffic to and from America amounted to 182,000 TEU (+9.2 per cent), the Africa route recorded 47,000 TEU (+7.4 per cent), and the European distribution services, an important segment for Hamburg, totalled 470,000 TEU ( 12.9 per cent). 

Asia, led by China, is by far the most significant market partner for the Port of Hamburg in the container-handling segment. One out of three containers handled in Hamburg comes from or goes to China. Positive effects of the economic stimulus programmes initiated in China are not yet discernible in the cargo-handling figures of the Port of Hamburg. As Europe’s leading China port, the Hamburg hub handles substantial volumes of cargo from and to China – so-called transhipment cargo – in the feeder traffic with neighbouring European countries, mainly in the Baltic region. However, Germany's exports will also benefit from a recovery in world trade, where the World Bank projects growth of around 4.3 per cent for 2010. The OECD forecasts an increase of 7.2 per cent in German exports compared with 2009. The Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade, Services (BGA) anticipates Germany’s foreign trade to record up to 10 per cent growth in 2010. 

In her interpretation of the figures for container handling, Port of Hamburg Marketing CEO Claudia Roller pointed out that the figures analysed for the first three months do not yet reflect the impact of the additional Far East services which have been resuming operations since April. The inclusion of the second quarter when the half-yearly figures are compiled should show a clear upward trend in this segment. 

The cargo-handling figures for the first quarter of 2010 showing an increase of 4.6 per cent represent a positive signal for Hamburg’s port industry. We can see that the universal port of Hamburg benefited particularly from the encouraging trend in the handling of grabbable cargo during the first quarter of 2010. Handling of iron ore and other grabbable cargo, which was especially hard hit by the effects of the crisis last year, rose to 4.7 million tons, representing an increase of 49.7 per cent. Suction cargo, at 1.6 million tons, fell just short of the very high figure of the previous year ( 4.8 per cent). Transhipments of liquid cargo totalled 3.6 million tons ( 10.8 per cent). 

After the presentation of the quarterly figures, Jaana Kleinschmit von Lengefeld, a member of the Management Board of ADM Hamburg Aktiengesellschaft, the leading agribulk business, stressed the importance of the bulk cargo segment for the Port of Hamburg and pointed out that numerous industrial enterprises in or close to the port also received deliveries of bulk cargoes for further processing, making the port a vital link in the global supply chains. Through their ongoing capital spending programmes, these companies provide job safety and are an important factor in the value-adding chain. “The infrastructure improvements demanded by port-related businesses and the industrial sector, ranging from the upgrading of the fairway in the Lower and Outer Elbe right through to rail and road links between the port and the hinterland, are also of great significance for the bulk cargo sector and associated industries and should be implemented as soon as possible,” stressed Jaana Kleinschmit von Lengefeld. 

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