HamburgТs Port lowers Fees Port - Alliance initiates Growth Strategy
Dec. 9, 2009 - The port of Hamburg is lowering its fees in an effort to secure the future growth of the port. In intensive talks with the port and shipping industry and upon the initiative of Senator Gedaschko, incentives have been developed to route additional shipping traffic through Hamburg. At the same time, the public port infrastructure will be further expanded and improved to cater for future trade needs and growth. In the coming four to five years, some € 1 billion - proceeds that the city state generated from the sale of HHLA shares in 2007 - are planned to be invested in public port infrastructure measures. As in all ports around the world, the global economic crisis has caused a sharp drop in handling rates. However, current signs are that the bottom has been reached and the port is back on the path to growth. In terms of quality and prices, the port of Hamburg is competitive, innovative and climate-friendly, and it is building on these strengths to stabilise and enhance the signs of recovery.
One of the core elements of the initiative is the adjustment of port fees. "The more traffic you route through Hamburg, the more you'll benefit", says Jens Meier, managing director of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). In addition to the volume rebate of up to 50 per cent for additional traffic, which is already in place, a time-limited transhipment incentive system is planned to be introduced in a first step. In reference to the transhipment containers handled, that may save up to 50 per cent of the costs per box. "That way we are strengthening our position as a feeder traffic hub in the North Sea and Baltic Sea area," emphasises Meier. The port fee package provides that tariffs will not be increased in 2010 and ship owners may benefit from extended terms of payment. These measures will be limited to one year first. In a second step, it is planned to incorporate a volume and climate component in the port fee tariff.
Senator Axel Gedaschko, State Ministry of Economic and Labour Affairs: "With these measures, Hamburg is expanding its leading role among the North Range ports with regard to port fees. Contrary to our competitors, we do not respond to the tight economic situation by introducing a short-sighted crisis tariff. Instead, we have developed a joint strategy that puts long-term growth first and offers the customers of the port of Hamburg planning security. However, it is not only the public sector that is moving. In numerous discussions with business representatives, I've been given signals that the port-operating businesses are responding pro-actively, too, to gain market share."
The German federal railway, Deutsche Bahn AG, also backs Hamburg as a logistics hub and confirms its decision to expand its market share in the port of Hamburg's hinterland by implementing targeted investment projects. Not only does it invest extensively in pivotal infrastructure projects, such as the modernisation of the Maschen marshalling yard. The refurbishment of the existing infrastructure at a total cost of some € 230 million is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Over the years to 2014, a third railway track will be built in the approximately 27-kilometre long Stelle-Lüneburg section and a fourth track will be laid between Stelle and Ashausen. The federal government and the German railway will invest € 280 million in this project. In Hausbruch, a two-track expansion project is to improve the port railway's rail links. The facilities at the Billwerder rail freight station will be expanded at a cost of about € 17 million. The funding will come from the economic recovery programme launched by the federal government.
Ute Plambeck, Deutsche Bahn AG: "Deutsche Bahn is backing the results of the "Railway-Seaport-Hinterland Traffic Master Plan". Railway network expansion projects in and around Hamburg at investment costs of over € 550 million have already been completed or commenced, and we are now laying the foundation for tomorrow's additional traffic."
Hamburg's pilots and the Elbe River pilots are facing up to their responsibility, too - they will forego the increase in pilotage charges already fixed for 2010. The port and shipping industry will benefit from the port fee measures in many ways:
1) The term of payment may be extended to up to 12 months if the respective securities can be provided. That greatly benefits ship owners, whose liquidity situation will be eased.
2) The ship owners will also automatically profit from the incorporation of a volume component in the port tariff categories from 2011 onwards if their handling volumes decrease due to the global economic crisis, for instance.
3) Ships that transport more cargo will be given preference treatment: as practised in other European seaports, climate-friendly ships will be awarded. This measure further enhances the already climate-friendly profile of the port of Hamburg, especially in view of the fact that Hamburg is the "European Green Capital" in 2011. Hamburg has two major ecological advantages over its competitors: on the one hand, a huge proportion of hinterland freight is moved by environmentally-friendly rail. On the other hand, transport routes from Hamburg to central and eastern Europe are shorter, which saves energy and cuts CO2 emissions.
Frank Horch, President of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce: "In every crisis lies an opportunity. We have made use of it by getting everyone involved in securing the future of the port and cooperating in a way I have not seen before. From toady on, markets are given a very clear signal that Hamburg is taking on and actively enhancing the role that history and geography assigned it: acting as a bridge between the markets in the Far East, middle/eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea region. And we will make sure that the customers of our port will benefit from it."
Conclusion: In the long term, Hamburg's position among the competing ports is excellent. Speed, reliability and short ways to the Baltic Sea region as well as to middle and eastern Europe guarantee success and ensure that Hamburg will further expand its role as a central hub of global trade. Hamburg's strength has always been its transhipment business. Due to its geographic location between the North Sea and Baltic Sea, Hamburg in particular handles cargoes from and to the Baltic region.
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