As a result of the Chinese economy weakening, Hamburg has recorded a year-on-year drop in performance, as it totalled a throughput figure of 105.6 million tonnes of seaborne cargo for the first nine months of 2015; a figure 4.8% lower than the corresponding period in 2014.
Even if bulk cargo-handling in the first three quarters totalled 34.8 million tonnes and was therefore once again substantially higher, being up 8.7%, this could not fully offset the decline in general cargo throughput.
Container throughput in the first nine months totalled 6.7 million TEU, which was down by 9.2% on 2014.
Hamburg has also seen a downward trend in container traffic with Russia.
The fall in container throughput has been put down to a weak Russian Rouble, low oil price and the continuing economic recession in Russia.
Axel Mattern, Executive Board Member of Port of Hamburg Marketing, said: “The downturn of container traffic with Russia of the order of more than one-third hit us especially hard because the bulk of all containers were transhipment containers that were loaded on to, or discharged from oceangoing containerships.
“This second step in handling per box and per direction of transport from feedership on to the oceangoing containership or the reverse is now only occurring to a much lesser extent, a fact also reflected in the overall statistics for containers handled in Hamburg.
“A recovery can hardly be expected in the near future. We assume that container throughput with Russia is now stabilizing and that perhaps the first signs of an upward trend will be apparent next year.”
At the Port of Hamburg’s quarterly press conference, Axel Mattern and Ingo Egloff emphasized that apart from the downturn in the Russia trade, the weak throughput trend on container traffic with China had strongly influenced total throughput for the first nine months of 2015.
Axel Mattern said: “Since China is our strongest trading partner in container traffic, and large quantities of containers are transhipped via Hamburg for transport into the Baltic region, this downturn is painful for the Port of Hamburg. On top of this, the long overdue dredging of the Lower and Outer Elbe add to the difficulty of handling especially large ships better and more flexibly.
Mattern concluded: “Against the background of a somewhat weak trend in total container transport volume generally, and new handling capacities in competing ports in the North Range, we find ourselves locked in intense competition.”
Fact File: The Port of Hamburg provides employment for more than 153,000 people in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. With gross value-added of US$25.1 billion, it is also of great importance for the entire German economy. For 2015 as a whole, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing organisation forecasts a continued positive trend in bulk cargo throughput and a drop in container throughput.