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Port of Hamburg calls out misleading empties reports

There is no scarcity of empty containers at the Port of Hamburg said the port’s CEO Axel Mattern following an extensive survey of the port’s customers, but he also warned of the pain to come.

According to some reports there is a shortage of empty containers as the Chinese New Year and Covid-19 crisis has unfolded, with manufacturing in Chinese heartlands stalling after the Lunar New Year as a result of the viral epidemic. According to the widely reported Container XChange’s availability index there is a scarcity of equipment in Europe as a result of the shutdown of Chinese industry.

Mattern told Container News, the scarcity claimed by Container XChange is “bullshit”, he said the Hamburg Port had conducted a flash survey of all the liner shipping companies operating at the German port and none had reported any empty container scarcity.

“The lines plan the repositioning of containers three to four weeks in advance, but there are always some shortages somewhere, maybe of the right sort of containers, 20ft or 40ft equipment, but up to now there is no general shortage of containers,” said Mattern.

However, he went on to warn that the shutdown of the manufacturing industry in China would have a six to eight-week lag-time which means that if there will be shortages they will start around this time.

“This week liner services will decline, there will be 40% fewer ships in the Asia to Europe services and that goes along with less volumes from Asia and cargo for Europe,” added Mattern.

He went on to say that with the virus now hitting Europe and the shutdown of production on the continent will mean less export cargo for some industries. He said that the automotive industry had been very badly hit, however, the chemical industry which supplies the pharmaceutical industry is still thriving.

However, categorically, said Mattern, there are no shortages of dry containers and no shortages of reefer boxes at this time in the Port of Hamburg.

Nick Savvides
managing Editor

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