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The Port of Hamburg Begins the Year on a Positive Note

The Port of Hamburg has kicked off 2024 on a high note, reporting a promising uptick in container throughput despite challenging geopolitical and economic conditions. The first quarter saw container throughput rise to 1.9 million TEU, a 1.1 percent increase compared to the same period last year. This upward trend is noteworthy given the backdrop of global tensions.

Container throughput by tonnage also showed improvement, increasing by 0.7 percent to reach 19.0 million tonnes. Axel Mattern, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing, commented on this positive development, noting that despite current events in the Red Sea, trade appears to be stabilizing, and the recovery process is continuing. However, Mattern cautioned that quarterly results represent a short period and may not fully reflect trends for the rest of the year.

Overall, total seaborne cargo throughput stood at 27.4 million tonnes for the first quarter, marking a 3.3 percent decrease from the same period last year. This decline was primarily driven by a significant drop in bulk cargo transport, which fell to 8.2 million tonnes, an 11.9 percent decrease. The decrease in liquid cargo, attributed to high inventory levels, further contributed to this downturn.

One standout area was the Port of Hamburg’s container shipping routes with the USA, which set a new record. In the first three months, 179,000 TEU were handled, a remarkable 17.7 percent increase. This surge aligns with the port’s strategy to diversify its partner structure and enhance resilience. Meanwhile, container traffic with China remained strong, leading the port’s routes with 536,000 TEU, a 2.9 percent increase.

Other notable increases in container traffic included Mexico and Morocco. The Port of Hamburg handled 27,000 TEU with Mexico, a 32.2 percent rise from last year. Even more impressive was the traffic with Morocco, which saw a 44.9 percent increase to 34,000 TEU. This surge is indicative of increased transshipment traffic to the Mediterranean, likely influenced by the situation in the Red Sea.

Transshipment traffic overall rose by 3.0 percent, with the port handling 625,400 TEU in this category. This growth is a positive indicator of the port’s role as a vital hub for Mediterranean-bound cargo.

The first quarter also saw an increase in ship calls, particularly from vessels with medium capacities of 4,000 to 10,000 TEU. In contrast, calls from ships exceeding 10,000 TEU decreased, partly due to the diversion of these larger vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, resulting in longer sailing times and fewer calls at Hamburg.

Hinterland transport via rail maintained stability, with container throughput rising by 0.9 percent to 641,000 TEU. Rail transport continues to account for over half of container hinterland traffic, a testament to its efficiency and reliability. In terms of tonnage, rail transport to the hinterland remained almost steady at 11.5 million tonnes, reflecting a slight decrease of 0.6 percent after a strong performance in the previous year.

As the Port of Hamburg navigates through a complex global landscape, these early gains in 2024 suggest a resilient and adaptable infrastructure, ready to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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