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  August 22nd, 2015 | Written by

Cargo at Hamburg Trailing 2014 Levels

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  • Containers at Hamburg were down 6.8 percent during the first half of 2015, due to weak trade with China and Russia.
  • Bulk cargoes at Hamburg were up 12.3 percent thanks to strong coal imports and grain exports.
  • Dredging of Hamburg’s navigation channels is essential to facilitate handling of ultra-large vessels.

At 70.8 million tons, the port of Hamburg’s cargo throughput for the first half of 2015 was just below the previous year’s levels.

Bulk cargo handling during the first six months of 2015 stood at 23.6 million tons, up 12.3 percent from 2014. First-half container throughput reached 4.5 million TEUs, 6.8 percent below the last year’s total.

Bulk cargo increases were attributable to a 19-percent rise coal and ore imports, totaling 11.5 million tons. Coal imports reached 3.8 million tons, a 46.3-percent increase over last year. Grain exports, at 5.3 million tons, were up by 22.4 percent. First-half throughput of liquid cargoes at 6.7 million tons was 3.3 percent below the comparable figure last year.

Non-containerized general cargo, such as heavy-lift and wheeled cargoes, at 876,000 tons, stood at 5.8 percent below 2014.

Container handling was down 6.8 percent primarily attributable to weak trade with the port’s two leading partners, China and Russia. Container traffic with China was down by 10.9 percent at 1.3 million TEUs, and with Russia by 35.9 percent at 212,000 TEUs.

“The weak trend in foreign trade was especially apparent in exports from China to Europe on account of the costlier RMB,” explained Axel Mattern, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. “During the first six months of the year the euro was on average 19 percent lower than the RMB, making purchase of Chinese goods costlier for European importers.”

On container traffic with Russia, in addition to the trade sanctions in force, other factors such as the weak ruble, the fall in the oil prices, and economic recession all converged to cause a downturn in container throughput at Hamburg.

“Goods from abroad are becoming costlier for Russian importers,” said Ingo Egloff, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. “The IMF is assuming a 3.4 percent drop in Russian GDP this year.”

Hamburg’s seaport-to-hinterland traffic developed extremely well in the first half of 2015. “Altogether 2.9 million TEU were transported, an increase of 2.3 percent,” said Mattern. “That set a new record for land-side container transport. Container transport by rail climbed to 1.2 million TEUs. That is an advance of 6.4 percent and clearly shows that rail is capable of above-average growth in container transport.” The two Hamburg officials emphasized that dredging of Hamburg’s navigation channels is essential to facilitate handling of ultra-large vessels. “Large containerships could transport up to 1,800 more loaded containers both inbound and outbound,” said Mattern.