Container market and expansion of Polish ports discussed during Transport Week 2021

The first day of the Transport Week webinar, held at the Constructor’s Park in Gdynia, concluded today. The discussions revolved around the current situation on the container market, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and potential recovery. Also featured were current expansion plans by the Ports of Gdynia and Szczecin-Świnoujście and DCT Gdańsk’s vision for the coming years.

Hosted by the event’s long-time partner, the City of Gdynia, we were delighted to have Ms Katarzyna Gruszecka-Spychała, the City’s Vice-Mayor, deliver the opening speech. The Mayor underscored Gdynia’s potential for business, especially for young entrepreneurs and up-and-coming companies. Also mentioned was the importance of the maritime sector for the City’s ongoing development, as well as how the implementation of innovative digitalization processes fits into its overall strategy.

After the introductions it was time to delve into the first session’s main topic – an overview of the container market in Europe and the Baltic Sea region. As to be expected, the pandemic had a negative impact on turnover. The top 10 European container ports handled a total of 65.3m TEU in 2020, a drop of approx. 1.7%. Total throughput for Baltic ports reached 8.8m TEUs, a drop of approx. 4.3%. In terms of leaders, the European top 10 charts are topped by Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg. On the Baltic side of things, we have St. Petersburg, Gdańsk and Gdynia, with the Polish ports staying at the top overall. That said, the year was difficult for nearly everyone, with a couple sole exceptions (e.g. Gdynia, Gothenburg, Aarhus), as the Polish ports noted the first overall drop in container turnover since 2015.

Fitting perfectly into the topic at hand, the viewers than had a chance to learn more about future plans and vision of the DCT Gdańsk. The presentation mentioned a very good start to 2020, which then turned into what can be described as the perfect storm. Despite the drops in overall turnover numbers, the terminal actually registered some gains in local cargo handled. It is worth mentioning, that Poland did fairly well in the first months of the pandemic, which can be attributed to the rich and diverse industry environment. This is very potent ground for DCT’s plans to remain a hub not just for Poland but the whole Baltic region.

Generally the Polish terminals are staying on track and are well prepared for the difficulties all industries are currently facing, as the market is hoped to start to recover, as confirmed also by the representatives of the Gdynia Container Terminal. Throughput in 2021 is expected to be at least on the level of the numbers recorded in 2020.

Pandemic or not, the show must go on. Infrastructure investments and projects in ports are measured in years, sometime decades, as such they account for possible bumps along the road. This is reflected in the steady pace at which the Ports of Gdynia and Szczecin-Świnoujście are proceeding with their expansion plans. Expansion of the Port of Gdynia is needed and made possible thanks to its continuous growth in transshipments and good forecasts for the coming years. The value of investments made and commenced in the last three years clocks in at over 1bn PLN. Naturally, the most ambitious goal at hand is the further development of the Outer Port project, the biggest undertaking in the port’s history since its establishment.

A very important point has been raised during the brief presentation of the Port of Szczecin-Świnoujście’s deepwater container terminal project, which is currently undergoing tender procedures. Seaports are vital to any countries economy, acting today not only as transport hubs, but also distribution and sometimes even production centers. They also contribute greatly to workplace generation, with each workplace in a port translating into approx. 30 workplaces in the national economy.

The Transport Week 2021 webinar series continues tomorrow, starting at 10:30 CET, in polish, with a focus on digital solutions and tools for transport and logistics. DAY2 is co-organized with another of our long-time partners, Namiary na Morze i Handel.

You can follow tomorrow’s stream on our YouTube channel.