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EU – Japan agreement: Repercussions for the Hamburg Port?

The European Union (EU) has signed its largest-ever free trade agreement. This aims to boost the economies of the EU and Japan. For instance, the deal will reduce Customs duties and other trade obstacles, stimulate growth and create new jobs. After checking the legal formulation of the text and translation, the agreement will be submitted to the European Parliament and EU member states for approval. Ideally, the pact, which has been in preparation since 2013, can come into force before the European elections in 2019. How could it make itself felt in the Port of Hamburg? How has foreign trade with Japan previously developed?

According to the European Commission, at the end of 2017 EU exports to Japan were expected to climb by between 16 and 24 percent. Exports of processed food products from the EU could rise by up to 180 percent, and of chemicals by more than 20 percent. EU exports of electrical machines to Japan will probably increase by up to 16 percent. According to the European Commission, opening of the Japanese market could offer special opportunities for the pharmaceutical, medical product, agricultural produce/food, vehicle and mobility sectors.

The trend towards potential further growth in Hamburg’s seaborne cargo throughput with Japan has been demonstrated in the past five years by a continuous volume (ton) increase in Germany’s foreign trade with Japan: up by 5.7 percent in 2015, by 4.4 percent in 2016, and by 4.3 percent in 2017. Seaborne cargo throughput between the Port of Hamburg and Japan in 2017 reached around 2.8 million tons (place 28). Around 99 percent of this consisted of cargoes that could be containerized.

Among imports, vehicles, machinery and equipment, along with chemical products are the top items. Timber products, foodstuffs, metals and chemical products head the export rankings. Container throughput in Hamburg in 2017 totalled around 131,000 TEU (18th place).

Container volume rose by 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2018. A more distinct rise is anticipated for the first half.

Five liner services connect the Port of Hamburg with Japanese ports. Of these, one is a weekly container service and three are general/heavy cargo services, while one service transports general and wheeled cargo. These specialized services run regularly from Hamburg and call at ports in Japan as required.

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