Press Release No. 05/17 Hamburg, 15 February 2017
Port of Hamburg resumes growth course
Container throughput achieves 1.0 percent advance in 2016/ Setting a record result for
seaport-hinterland rail transport with 2.4 million TEU
In 2016 Germany’s largest universal port achieved a turnaround in seaborne cargo throughput,
reaching a total 138.2 million tons in the general and bulk cargo segments. ‘Seaborne cargo
throughput in the Port of Hamburg again developed upwards with an increase of 0.3 percent.
Stronger general cargo throughput offset a slight downturn in bulk cargo throughput. The Port
of Hamburg is also contemplating a positive trend for 2017,’ said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port
of Hamburg Marketing. The successful development of seaport-hinterland transport by rail
was maintained. ‘Hamburg is further extending its position as Europe’s leading rail port. In 2016,
46.4 million tons of freight (up 1.5 percent) and 2.4 million TEU (up 2.4 percent) were
transported in/out of the port by rail. We are delighted about this record result.
Now at 46.6 percent, the proportion of freight transported by rail received a further boost,’
said Ingo Egloff, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.
After an initially modest start at the beginning of the year, container throughput picked up
during the second half, achieving a 1.0 percent advance over twelve months to 8.9 million TEU.
At 91.7 million tons, total containerized cargo volume rose by 1.2 percent. The container traffic
with Asia that is of such special importance for the Port of Hamburg was up by 1.3 percent at 4.7
million TEU. Also dominating in Hamburg, container throughput with Chinese ports made good progress,
increasing by 1.6 percent to 2.6 million TEU. Container services on trade routes with North and
South America were 2.9 percent ahead at 1.2 million TEU. Handling 2.6 million TEU, the European
container trade remained at the previous year’s level. A gratifying 4.5 percent increase took
container traffic with Russia up to 453,000 TEU. ‘Despite trade sanctions remaining in force,
Russia returned to second place (2015: third) among the Port of Hamburg’s container transport
trading partners,’ reported Ingo Egloff. As before, direct calls by container liner services in
Gothenburg and Danzig caused downturns in Hamburg’s seaborne container throughput with Sweden,
10.6 percent lower at 243,000 TEU, and Poland, down by 9.7 percent at 214,000 TEU. Totalling
1.8 million TEU, container services with the Baltic nevertheless remained at the previous year’s
level. Up 2.0 percent at 241,000 TEU, India’s continuingly growing importance remained very
satisfactory. The country now takes tenth place in the list of Hamburg’s top trading partners for
container transport. Other positive trends in container traffic can be reported with the USA,
11.1 percent up at 363,000 TEU, United Kingdom, 12.6 percent up at 246,000 TEU, United Arab Emirates,
11.1 percent up at 234,000 TEU, and Mexico, 17.8 percent higher at 74,000 TEU.
On both imports and exports, the Port of Hamburg’s throughput balance for 2016 reflected growth.
At 4.6 million TEU, imports were up by 1.2 percent, while exports at 4.3 million TEU scored
a 0.7 percent advance. ‘Despite lower transhipment-container services by feederships to/from
Sweden and Poland, on total throughput the port can report an upward trend for both imports and
exports. Growth was primarily generated by container services with Asia and the Americas,’
On bulk cargo throughput, accounting for throughput of 44.9 million tons (down 1.3 percent) in
Hamburg in 2016, imports and exports fared differently. On the import side, a total of 33.4 million
tons represented a gain of 3.0 percent. On exports, at 11.5 million tons bulk cargo throughput was
down on the previous year by 11.9 percent. Ensuring import growth were the following segments:
suction cargoes – oilseeds, grains & feedstuffs – that were 7.8 percent higher at 4.3 million tons,
and liquid cargoes that rose by 9.7 percent to 10.7 million tons. Here the main cause of the
increase was a 29.4 percent advance to 9.7 million tons in imports of oil products. Mainly involving
coal and ores, grab cargo throughput was slightly – 1.4 percent – down to 18.5 million tons on the
previous year. At 11.5 million tons, exports in the suction, liquid and grab cargo segments were
down by 11.9 percent, for various reasons. Apart from the harvest-related downturn in grain exports
down by 23.2 percent at 3.2 million tons, another in oil products was also recorded. At 2.2 million
tons, these were 20.6 percent lower than in the especially strong previous year, primarily as the
result of the closure of a major refinery in Hamburg, where oil product exports ceased.
At 3.5 million tons – down by 0.5 percent – the result on grab cargoes almost matched the previous
In 2016, at 1.5 million tons throughput of non-containerized general cargoes, for example bulky
plant elements and wheeled cargo, was 11.0 percent down on the previous year. On the import side,
with the total 9.7 percent lower at 518,000 tons, growing totals for citrus fruits – 1.7 percent
higher at 182,000 tons – and other conventional cargoes, for example large machinery, proved unable
to offset downturns for paper, wood, metal and vehicles. On exports of conventional general cargoes,
with the total down 11.6 percent at one million tons, growth for timber, iron and steel failed to
offset lower vehicle exports.
Record result for seaport-hinterland rail transport
Ingo Egloff and Axel Mattern, Port of Hamburg Marketing’s Joint CEOs, declared at the Port of
Hamburg’s Annual Press Conference that seaborne cargo throughput in the universal Port of Hamburg
has stabilized and there is an obvious upward trend. In strong competition with the other main
ports in Northern Europe, Hamburg can claim an especially positive trend in seaport-hinterland
services. Against the trend for lower volumes on rail freight traffic in Germany, at 46.4 million
tons the volume transported into/out of the Port of Hamburg was 1.5 percent higher. The number of
containers transported by rail climbed by 2.4 percent to 2.4 million TEU. In the Port of Hamburg’s
modal split, rail further increased its share of containers transported from 41.6 percent to
42.3 percent. Linking Hamburg with all hinterland economic centres, more than 200 freight trains
reach or leave Europe’s largest rail port every day. “In a comparison with ports in Europe, the
highest number of connections and the great frequency of train departures to/from Hamburg are very
advantageous in offering shippers in industry and commerce rapid handling of their export and
import cargoes,’ said Egloff.
Elbe fairway adjustment is coming
To continue expanding the Port of Hamburg in its multitude of functions and to keep it competitive,
modernization and expansion of an efficient infrastructure for freight transport by rail, truck,
inland waterway or oceangoing ship is of crucial importance. ‘With its judgement on 9 February,
the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig expressly underlined the necessity of the fairway
adjustment,’ said Jens Meier, CEO of Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). Fairway adjustment is coming.
Now the task is to extend the legal process. ‘We shall now be concentrating on clarifying the
questions about possible fluctuations in the salinity of the Elbe and on attending to demands for
additional compensatory areas within the framework of what is compatible with legislation on
protecting habitats.’ The project group responsible will be urgently working on this, yet it is
too early just now to make a firm statement on the time framework required.
The Federal Administrative Court made clear in its judgement that no deficiencies are evident in
the entire planning process and that the objections by environmental groups in respect of hydraulic
construction measures are unfounded. The European water directive has also been observed.
Only the protection of one plant species, the ‘Hemlock Water Dropwort’ and the designation of
compensatory areas require improvement, and then the measure should be implemented.
‘So it is clear that fairway adjustment is coming, but we regret the loss of more time in
implementing the measure. The essential point is that for shipping on the Elbe and operations in
the Port of Hamburg, nothing changes. We have proved able until now to handle the largest containerships,
and that will remain so in future. No deterioration will therefore be occurring,’ stressed Egloff.
The Port of Hamburg is Germany’s largest universal port, guaranteeing more than 156,000 jobs in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.
The port is a significant industrial base and with net added value of 21.8 billion euros is of
immense significance for the entire German economy. For 2017, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing
organization reckons with a seaborne cargo throughput at last year’s level.
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