Current trends already show the first indications of recovery
May 18, 2009
The volume of seagoing goods passing through the Port of Hamburg is significantly lower in the first quarter of 2009 than in the corresponding period of last year
Spoiled by success in past years, the Port of Hamburg has reported a total volume of goods handled in the first quarter of 2009 coming to 27.32 million tons - a decline of 21.7 percent in comparison with the corresponding figures from last year. On the import side, Port of Hamburg Marketing (the marketing organisation of the Port of Hamburg) registered a volume of goods amounting to 15.75 million tons (-22.6 percent). Exports from Hamburg likewise showed a decline in comparison with the first quarter of 2008, reaching 11.57 million tons (-20.4 percent). The handling of general cargo, which predominates in Hamburg, was worse affected by the global economic stagnation than the handling of bulk goods, general cargo achieving a total of 18.45 million tons (-26.2 percent) and the bulk goods 8.87 million tons (-10.3 percent) in the first three months of this year. Containers handled at the Port of Hamburg came to 1.86 million TEUs (standard 20 foot containers) in the first quarter, 24.3 percent less than the corresponding figure for the first quarter of 2008.
When it comes to container transport, China is far and away the Port of Hamburg's most significant trade partner. One in three of the containers handled in Hamburg comes from China or is going to China. In comparison with the first quarter of 2008, Chinese foreign trade with Europe declined in the months of January and February by 20.2 percent and in the month of March by 19.3 percent. This has particularly serious implications for Hamburg, as the biggest European port for trade with China. Hamburg functions as a hub for Chinese trade, as a large proportion of goods from China is transshipped here and carried on by feeder services to neighbouring European countries.
Commenting on the figures, Port of Hamburg Marketing Chairman Claudia Roller pointed out that the period of three months under considerations is just a momentary snapshot; detailed analysis of the performance of different shipping routes and goods categories would only be possible when the figures for the first half of the year become available at the end of July. "Results for the first quarter of 2009 find the Port's industry well prepared in most respects, seeing that the fourth quarter of 2008 already showed clearly the effects of the worldwide financial and economic crisis. But we can at least state that since the beginning of the year the transport of general cargo in Hamburg has begun once again to show a rising tendency, and the same has been true of bulk goods as well since March. We have received confirmation of these positive signals from our customers and partners in the German industry, at port receptions in Vienna and Neuss/Düsseldorf as well as at the most recent transport trade fairs, TransRussia in Moscow and transport logistic in Munich. After seven months of decline, more orders are again being received in the industry and foreign sales are once again indicating a growth in exports. As the biggest German seaport, we are closely involved in every way with economic and foreign trade developments. As a universal port, the Port of Hamburg has also been able to deliver some positive quarterly results in certain areas, in spite of the overall decline. For example, the handling of general cargo in connection with project cargo and heavy lift cargo came to 59,000 tons of import in the first quarter of 2009 - an increase of 33.2 percent as compared with the previous year's period. In total project and heavy lift cargo was handled in Hamburg in the first quarter 2009 with a plus of 9.5 percent up to 193,000 t. In the bulk cargo sector, shipments of grain actually came to a total of 774,000 tons, representing a rise of 121 percent."
Tino Klemm, Member of the Management Board of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) with responsibility for finance and real estate, recently gave a briefing on current developments at the port. He indicated explicitly that the intended investments in the upgrading of the port facilities will continue as planned.
Claudia Roller is convinced that the publicly bruited forecasts of a six percent decline in the German Gross National Product in 2009 will turn out to be unduly pessimistic. Pointing to the programmes for economic recovery that are in place all over the world, she anticipates a significant rising tendency in global trade as early as the second half of this year.
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