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Port of Hamburg strengthens its position.

The trend to higher growth rates in sea-feeder traffic than in direct traffic continued at the Port of Hamburg as it recorded a significant growth in transit traffic in the first half of 1992; the volume of cargo handled rose by 11.6% from 4.3 metric tons in 1990 to 4.8 metric tons in 1992. Seato-sea traffic grew even faster--by 22.6 %.

As the "Atlantic's most easterly port," Hamburg considerably strengthened its position as the hub of Scandinavian traffic. Liner and feeder services, fast rail links, and a closely-woven network of ferry links and motorways guarantee a rapid flow of goods to and from Scandinavia--a huge market with the spending power of 22 million inhabitants and a highly developed manufacturing industry exporting its products to overseas markets via Hamburg. In 1991 and 1992, Hamburg handed more containers bound for and coming from Scandinavia than Rotterdam and Bremen's Ports together.

Denmark tops the list of transit partners with 652,521 tons in the first six months of 1992 (up 15.9% on the 1990 figures). Sweden is second with 581,585 tons (up 16.8%), Finland fourth with 457,822 tons (up 19.3%) and Norway sixth with 230,049 tons (up 18.5%). The creation of a European Economic Area by the EC and EFTA member states opens up further prospects for the development of traffic to and from Scandinavia.

Dynamic growth of East-West traffic

The enormous growth in traffic with Poland--up 141.1%--was partly due to the introduction of direct-block trains to Warsaw and Krakow. The dramatic political upheavals of the past three years have returned the Port of Hamburg to a central position on the European geopolitical landscape and German unification gave Hamburg its traditional hinterland back. These catchment areas open up new potential transit cargoes exports and imports.

Over twice as much cargo was handled for Russia as for the former Soviet Union (an increase of 116%). Besides, the Baltic Republics, Ukraine, Byelo-Russia, and other states from the former Soviet Union now appeared for the first time in the list of Hamburg's transit partners.

Slight fall in total cargo handled

For Hamburg's seaport economy through, 1992 was not quite as successful as expected. The total volume of cargo handled, 65.1 metric tons was slightly less than the 1991 total of 65.5 metric tons. However, this was a very respectable result in view of the stagnant state of the world's leading industrial nations.

Hamburg successfully defended its position as the world's seventh-largest container port, remained second only to Rotterdam in the European league, and strengthened its position as Germany's largest seaport.

Container traffic: Unabated dynamic growth

Containerization marches on in the Port of Hamburg. The rate of containerization--the weight of loaded containers as a percentage of total general cargo--increased from 71 to 74.5% in 1992. However, in terms of total container traffic, 1992 was unable to follow the double-digit growth figures of previous years (1986-1991 saw an increase of 76%).

In 1992 the volume of container traffic rose by a "mere" 5.2% from 21.4 metric tons to 22.5 metric tons and, in TEU terms, from 2.189 million to 2.262 million (up 3.6%). However, Hamburg's port economy is confidently sticking to its goals for 1993 and 2000:2.4 million and 4 million TEUs respectively.

The locomotives of last year's growth in traffic were Scandinavia (up 19.5%), North Africa (up 24.3%), Eastern Mediterranean (up 21%) and South America-East Coast (up 23.3%). The devaluation of Finland's currency led to an export offensive by Finnish industry. The volume of cargo handled was also boosted by the Brazilian government's deregulatory measures to liberalize shipping policy and trade.

Developments were disappointing on the Far Eastern routes, which contribute some 45% of total cargo. There was steady growth in Far East imports from early 1990 to mid-l991 and then a subsequent slump occurred. The result was that imports of loaded containers greatly exceeded exports in 1991. Consequently, empty containers were in great demand at the dispatch locations in the Far East so that traffic in empty containers to the Far East grew enormously-at times accounting for over 30% of traffic in loaded containers. Though this was always an unbalanced relationship, empties never accounted for more than 5 - 15% in previous years.

At the end of 1991, the volume of incoming loaded containers and outgoing empties fell dramatically so that this ratio again neared the 10% mark during 1992. Shipping lines were able to save most of the costs incurred for the non-profitable transport of empties, but the Port of Hamburg lost an additional source of income which the unusually high demand for imports to eastern Germany had caused in 1991. The traffic in empty containers on the Far Eastern routes fell by 31.7% in 1991 and imports of loaded containers by 2.7% but exports rose by 2.1% in TEU terms.

More liner service departures

Hamburg's significance as a main port in Europe grew again in 1992. On nearly all the trading routes (the Far East, Middle East, India, Eastern Mediterranean, North and South Africa, North and South America, Australia, and Scandinavia) there were more frequent departures on existing container liner services or new services were introduced (e.g. Maersk and Hyundai Merchant Marine).
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Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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