For the Port of Hamburg, the reluctance to consume and invest apparent in Europe in the second half of 2012 especially affected throughput of imported goods. At 73.9 million tons, these were down by 3 percent. By contrast, exports by sea at 57.1 million tons (+ 1.9 percent) once again increased. This positive trend could be explained by uninterrupted worldwide demand for German products, among other factors. The Port of Hamburg is further strengthening its position as “Gateway to the World” for German exports. Altogether 3.8 million loaded export containers (TEU) were handled in Hamburg during 2012. That corresponds to 4.4 percent growth by comparison with the previous year. The positive throughput trend on exports compensated for a 3.6 percent downturn in imports of loaded containers, which reached a volume of 3.8 million TEU. The slight (- 1.7 percent) downturn in total container throughput to 8.9 million TEU is primarily attributable to lower throughput of empty boxes. At 1.2 million empty containers (TEU), total handling in this segment was 12.1 percent lower than in 2011.
With the exception of Asia, the Port of Hamburg succeeded in boosting container traffic with all other continents. The Asia trade traditionally has a great importance for the Port of Hamburg. The 8.6 percent downturn in this trade to 4.7 million TEU made a corresponding impact on the Port of Hamburg’s total container throughput. Lower Asia traffic can primarily be explained by the problematical economic environment in Europe, the lack of a “peak season” for Christmas in 2012, and a cooling off in Chinese foreign trade. Container throughput with China (incl. Hong Kong), Hamburg‘s leading trade partner in container traffic, was distinctly weaker in 2012 at 2.6 million TEU (- 12.3 percent). Steep growth in container throughput with India (+ 7.1 percent), which in direct traffic with Indian ports reached 210,000 TEU in 2012, was not sufficient to compensate for the drop in the China trade. In 2012 Europe as Hamburg’s second largest container trade after Asia, reported an advance of 6.1 percent to 2.7 million TEU. Container traffic with the United Kingdom was strongly ahead at 156,000 TEU (+ 30.2 percent), while container throughput with Russia as the Port of Hamburg’s second-ranking trading partner reached 675,000 TEU (+ 13.3 percent). The Finland trade was slightly down at 334,000 TEU (- 0.6 percent), with Poland at 263,000 TEU achieving an advance of 10.6 percent.
A further core region for the Port of Hamburg’s container traffic is the America trade with a total of 1.1 million TEU. The USA achieved notable growth of 28.1 percent to 380,000 TEU, reaching fourth position among Hamburg’s main trading partners for container handling. The trend was also positive on container traffic with the West Coast of South America that grew by 8.8 percent, reaching 120,000 TEU. Container throughput with ports on the East Coast of South America, however, remained 7.8 percent below the previous year’s at 279,000 TEU. The container trade with Africa achieved a positive result at 238,000 TEU (+ 12.8 percent). The Port of Hamburg’s volume on container throughput with ports in the Australia/Pacific trade reached 43,000 TEU (+ 15.8 percent).
On non-containerized general cargo, at 2.1 million tons total throughput was 15.6 percent lower than the previous year’s. While exports of conventional cargo at 1.4 million tons were satisfactory (+ 0.1 percent), in 2012 imports at 730,000 tons (- 34.6 percent) were much lower. The positive trend in exports of general cargo is primarily attributable to exports of vehicles and paper.
In 2012 throughput of bulk cargoes was stable at 39.4 million tons (- 0.4 percent), being only just below the previous year’s. Whereas exports of bulk cargoes at 9.9 million tons were ahead by 4.6 percent in 2012, at 29.5 million tons the volume of imports in this segment was (- 2.0 percent) down on the previous year’s. On the export side, at 4.2 million tons throughput, liquid cargoes achieved growth of 11.6 percent. With total exports of 2.5 million tons, throughput of suction cargoes was 2.4 percent higher. Bulk goods imports at 9.1 million tons consisted mainly of iron ore, which produced growth of 8.0 percent. In the liquid cargo segment, oil imports at 4.4 million tons produced gratifying growth of 7.0 percent.
“We can be satisfied with the trend on the Port of Hamburg’s handling of exports. This illustrates once again the high standing German products enjoy abroad and underlines what a significant role in German foreign trade falls to the Port of Hamburg. Yet we do not wish to gloss over the total result, for the economy in Europe needs to recover and to generate an increased willingness to consume and invest. With demand again picking up in Europe and foreign trade gathering strength in our most significant markets abroad, for 2013 growth in total throughput can be expected for the Port of Hamburg. Yet the favourable development of the port is also very largely dependent on the implementation of outstanding infrastructure projects, as for example the deepening of the navigation channel of the Lower and Outer Elbe that is so urgently anticipated by the port business community and by industrial shippers,” emphasizes Claudia Roller, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing (HHM).
As Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Minister of Economics, Transport and Innovation emphasized “The Port of Hamburg is splendidly situated. The foundation underpinning its long-term success remains stable. Its outstanding location in terms of transport geography between the North Sea and the Baltic, the immense economic strength of its metropolitan region and the excellent quality of its port and traffic infrastructure contribute to this. Port of Hamburg policy must be directed at long-term trends and may not be led astray by short-term fluctuations in the economy.”
Wolfgang Hurtienne, CEO of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), is also looking to the infrastructural strengths of the Port of Hamburg: “In 2012 we proved able to almost repeat the Port Railway’s best-ever result of 2011. In recent years we have made very great progress in several respects. The expansion of the Port Railway continues to be accorded top priority.”