Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Hamburg - European Hub for China's New Silk Road

My wife Aafke Steenhuis and I recently visited the Port of Hamburg, for a book we are writing about world ports and globalization. If you want to know what the book is about, you can take a look at the website we created for the book: THE BIG, ROUGH SEA - World ports and globalization.

The port of Hamburg is one of the largest industrial areas in Europe. The port is located in the city itself, along the river Elbe, more than 100 km from the sea. In order for large, deep-lying container ships to arrive in Hamburg, the river must be constantly dredged.

The Port of Hamburg also wanted a deepening, 18 years ago. It created a long struggle with environmental groups and fruit growers south of the river. In 2020, the Port of Hamburg finally won the battle.

Perhaps the main reason the port won is its economic importance. It creates about 156,000 jobs and the port is Hamburg's biggest taxpayer.
Hamburg is the third largest port in Europe, after Rotterdam and Antwerp. One of the differences between Hamburg and the other two ports is that almost 50% of all cargo goes by rail to the hinterland.

China is by far the largest trading partner of the Port of Hamburg. Hamburg sees itself as the European hub for China's New Silk Road. Hamburg is an important rail hub for transport to and from China.

A few years ago, Greenpeace protested in the port of Hamburg against the arrival of a ship carrying coal from Russia. A banner said, "Global climate action means we must stop burning coal."

The port of Hamburg still imports coal, as do the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In 2016, 40% of electricity in Germany was generated from coal. Today, a third of the electricity in Germany still comes from coal. The use of coal is expected to end in 2038.

Hamburg has beaches along the Elbe, not for swimming but for sun-bathing and playing. It also has many nice terraces, with good coffee.

I made a short film about our visit to Hamburg which includes images of the Elbe river, tug and ferry boats, a long freight train coming from a container terminal, and the arrival of a COSCO container ship. I play the guitar music that accompanies it.

PS: The picture above comes from the online magazine of HHLA