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War, labour disputes and supply chain issues hit Hamburg throughput

HHLA/ Thies Rätzke A Cosco container ship at HHLA, Hamburg
A decline in throughput at the Port of Hamburg in 2022 was caused by the war in Ukraine, global supply chain issues and local labour disputes, according to the port.

Such is the market and economic uncertainty early in 2023, Port of Hamburg said it was difficult to deliver a forecast for the full year 2023. “We hope the global economy will again recover. That will aid and boost throughput for the Port of Hamburg,” said Hafen Hamburg Marketing CEO Axel Mattern.

Overall throughput at Hamburg terminals fell by 6.8% to 119.9m tonnes, with general cargo, bulk cargo and container volumes falling.

The 8.9% drop in bulk cargoes to 36.2m tonnes was attributed to direct and indirect impacts of sanctions against Russia. Suction cargo was down 6% at 6m tonnes, grab cargo was down 6.3% to 20.2m tonnes and liquid cargo was down 15.2% to 10m tonnes.

“The war in Ukraine plus the related sanctions against Russia, along with worldwide supply chain problems caused by the corona pandemic, impacted Port of Hamburg throughput during the year. This was compounded by labour disputes in the port at the beginning of the second half of the year and very high inflation in the course of the autumn, which caused consumer spending to fall to a low point,” explained Axel Mattern, Port of Hamburg Marketing’s CEO.

The port said it expects fresh volumes from new products as Hamburg undergoes its transition into a green energy hub for products like hydrogen.

The absence of a container peak season and wider economic impacts was felt in a 5.1% drop in container throughput to 8.3m teu. Improvements in the first half of the year were overshadowed by a steep drop in Q4. “With Christmas coming, in the final quarter we should normally see a rise in throughput totals. That failed to happen last year. The main reasons were high energy costs and inventories in industry,” said Mattern.

Box imports were down 6.1%; exports were down 4.1%.

Russia tumbled down the list of trading partners by volume from fourth position in 2021 to 27th in 2022. Volume increases were recorded for Poland, up 25% to take the fourth spot at 294,000 teu, and Finland, up 22.3% to 213,000 teu and sixth place overall.

China topped the list of trading partners once again with 2.46m teu, a 3.8% drop, and the US took second spot with a 2.1% decline to 605,000 teu.

The port noted a continued increase in calls from vessels with capacities over 18,00 teu, up 6% on-year to 234 calls. The second-largest category of ships – 14,000 to 17,999 teu – also grew by 5%.