Germany’s seaports are losing business to rivals in the Netherlands and Belgium and are calling on the federal government for urgent support to stem the losses.
Frank Dreeke and Michael Blach, who head up Bremen’s BLG Logistics Group, which holds a stake in Eurogate, operators of a terminal in Hamburg, were interviewed by Welt Am Sonntag over the weekend, and used the media platform to make the case for Berlin to get more involved in the ports scene.
Hamburg and Bremerhaven are struggling against heavily publicly funded ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp, the executives argued. Container throughput at the port of Hamburg, Germany’s top port city, fell 11.7% to 3.8m teu in the first half of 2023.
Dreeke described the EUR38m ($40.78m) annual federal budget for Germany’s seaports as a “joke”, suggesting EUR400m would not be enough.
“The port companies and administrations alone cannot make the necessary investments in quay upgrades, access routes and general infrastructure,” Dreeke said, lamenting how other countries such as Singapore and Finland had surpassed Germany in recent years in terms of the speed and efficiency of handling goods at ports.
This year’s National Maritime Conference, organised by the Federal Ministry of Economics, will take place in Bremen this Thursday and Friday. A long-planned national port strategy has yet to be finalised much to the frustration of the local port community.