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Port of Hamburg confident of noticeable recovery by year end
By:Zheng Qian  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2020-08-31 09:33

Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic have ravaged the global economy and interrupted the supply chains. However, in spite of the slump in port business in the first half of this year, the Port of Hamburg, Germany's largest universal port, is still optimistic of the port industry’s outlook.

Only too evident worldwide, the negative repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic are also affecting the throughput trend in the Port of Hamburg. In the first six months of the year, for instance, seaborne cargoes loaded or discharged at its terminals totaled just 61.2 million tons, representing a twelve percent downturn. In the container handling segment, a total of 4.1 million TEUs (20-ft standard containers) were shifted across the quaywalls, a 12.4 percent fall on the previous year.

Container handling, as reflected in volumes with the Port of Hamburg’s top ten trading partners, saw highly variable volumes for the first six months of 2020. Trading partners reporting growth were the USA, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia.

Five others, namely Russia, Sweden, South Korea, China and Poland reported substantial double-digit downturns, only Denmark avoiding this. The 16.4 percent collapse in seaborne container throughput with China, Hamburg’s top trading partner by a wide margin, proved impossible to offset through positive trends with other countries.

“The slowing down of the Chinese economy and the resultant cancellations of sailings on liner services – or ‘blank sailings’ in shipping parlance – led to lower throughput totals. With some delay, these repercussions were reflected in the first-half figures,” explained Axel Mattern, CEO of the Port of Hamburg Marketing, although he has detected an initial recovery on both the import and export sides of the China trades.

In the view of Ingo Egloff, Mattern’s fellow CEO, in the past two months a stabilization of vessel sailings has been achieved. “With the economy in China and Europe gradually picking up, I am confident that we have meanwhile reached the lowest point of the fall in seaborne cargo throughput caused by the pandemic, and will see a first noticeable recovery and improvement in the situation by the end of the year.”