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Shipping debate calls for more investments in maritime industry

Joint efforts for securing location. Opportunities and challenges of digitalization are key issues at 5th Hamburg Shipping Dialogue

Speakers at the 5th Hamburg Shipping Dialogue in the Chamber of Commerce have urged the maritime industry to invest more in digitalisation, environmental protection and infrastructure to remain competitive in future.

Lengthy procedures criticised

Fritz Horst Melsheimer, President of the Chamber of Commerce, has again criticised the lengthy approval procedures for the lower and outer Elbe fairway adjustments. Addressing 350 delegates at the 5th Hamburg Shipping Dialogue, he added: “The lengthy, intense and legal complications of this important procedure for Hamburg sometimes causes me to doubt the future sustainability of our state.” Melsheimer noted that the entire procedure has take 15 years since Hamburg first applied to the German government. So far, there have been over 7,000 objections and comments and the planning decision now has 2,600 pages.

However, Melsheimer was more optimistic about the new plan for Federal Traffic Routes for the port of Hamburg’s hinterland connection. Traffic projects such as the A1, A7 and the A26 east as well as the former cross-port route have been rated top requirements.

Opportunities of digitalisation

“Shipping in Germany only has a perspective when we can keep pace with international competition,” said Alfred Hartmann, President of the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR). He added: “The location will lose even more maritime know-how as long as ship companies operating vessels under the German flag cannot run them competitively. The measures launched must take effect as quickly as possible.” And digitalisation offers new opportunities. “Running and managing ships is now becoming smart and even more efficient.”

Expanding Hamburg’s locational advantages

In reference to the report entitled “Hamburg as a shipping location: strengths, challenges and future potential” (Schifffahrtsstandort Hamburg: Stärken, Herausforderungen und Zukunftspotentiale) published in March, Frank Horch, Senator for Economics, said: “One of the shipping location’s major strengths is that all the required maritime traffic exists in all the relevant segments and there is a great diversity and density of companies with excellent know-how. That makes Hamburg stand out and makes it so attractive. In a worldwide comparison of shipping locations, Hamburg comes second to Singapore, which is an impressive result. But great efforts are needed from all the involved players to keep this position in future.”

Sources and further information:

Hamburg Shipping Dialogue

The Chamber of Commerce first held the Hamburg Shipping Dialogue in 2012. The fifth edition has now been held in co-operation with the Authority for Economics, Traffic and Innovation, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, the Association of German Shipowners (VDR) as well as the German Ship Brokers’ Association. The annual series of events was occasioned by the economic and shipping crisis and the related ship financing watershed.

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