Since the outbreak of the epidemic in 2020, related typical incidents such as the disruption of global logistics and freight, detention in ports, and price increases have been rampant, making international trade that was already in dire straits worse. Although railway transportation and air transportation have also played a significant role in the epidemic, sea transportation is still the mainstream mode of transportation and a key link in global trade in goods. The obstruction of sea transportation will undoubtedly affect the large-scale import and export of goods and disrupt the normal order of international trade. In a wave of countercurrents, Sweden's largest port, Gothenburg, is busy and orderly, and it has become a "sacred needle" for container transportation in Europe.
The old port goes upstream
The Port of Gothenburg is located on the west coast of Sweden. It is not only the largest port in Sweden, but also the largest port in the Nordic region. Its important position is self-evident. The Port of Gothenburg is the only port in Sweden capable of receiving the world's largest container ships, with oil, automobiles, ro-ro ships, container and passenger terminals, and routes covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Nearly 30% of Sweden's foreign trade goes global through the Port of Gothenburg, and about half of the container traffic goes through the Port of Gothenburg. Export products mainly include steel, automobiles, paper, pulp and wood, etc., while imported products are mainly consumer products such as clothing, furniture, food and electronics.
According to data recently released by the Swedish authorities, the port of Gothenburg has seen a greater increase in traffic compared with other ports in Sweden and Europe.
In 2020, container traffic in the Port of Gothenburg increased by 0.5%. Although it is almost a slight increase, in the once chaotic environment of the global freight market, this performance has been considered commendable. This year, the container throughput of many major ports around the world has experienced a sharp drop, among which the container throughput of the 15 largest ports in Europe has dropped by an average of 2.8%.
Not only that, the Port of Gothenburg continues to occupy a larger share of the Swedish market. In 2020, Sweden handled a total of about 1.6 million TEUs, of which more than 770,000 TEUs (48%) were transported through the Port of Gothenburg. The Port of Gothenburg's market share in Sweden has increased by 1% compared to 2019.
"Although the epidemic has brought uncertainty to many industries, the Port of Gothenburg has successfully provided customers with safe and continuous services. The Port of Gothenburg has managed to remain open during the spread of the epidemic, and communication methods are relatively stable. Many shipping companies have priority. Consider calling at the Port of Gothenburg. Railway operators have also done amazing work and we managed to further increase the proportion of rail container cargo. The entire port has become synonymous with'reliability', which makes us very proud." Elvir Dzanic said.
The Port of Gothenburg has also managed to strike a balance between import and export, and imported containers can be quickly emptied and used for export. Therefore, it has not reached the level of a global shortage of containers. The Port of Gothenburg has reduced the potential impact of the shortage of containers on the Swedish market by strengthening cooperation with the port's inland terminals and carrying out more joint activities.
As early as February 2020, the Port of Gothenburg has taken measures to keep the port open and undisturbed in this unprecedented era of crisis. In the short term, the Port of Gothenburg will focus on operations to ensure that it maintains its leading position in the industry during difficult times. When there is a shortage of containers in many parts of the world, the Port of Gothenburg has to a certain extent ensured that the Swedish industry can obtain empty containers.
"We are very happy that the Port of Gothenburg can contribute to the stability of Swedish industry. When so many companies are in difficult times, in Gothenburg, we have done something right." Elver Dezanic said.
Mitigating the impact of the Suez Canal blockage
On March 23, 2020, the large freighter "Long Ci" ran aground on the Suez Canal, rendering a large number of cargo ships impassable. This dilemma was relieved 6 days later. Although the Suez Canal has been reopened, the chain impact of this incident has not been completely eliminated.
This situation means that the main European ports between the Suez Canal and Gothenburg will have a "ketchup effect"-many ships call at ports such as Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp almost simultaneously.
In fact, many European ports and their storage yards were already full of cargo before the Suez Canal clogging problem appeared, and the epidemic was the main cause. The relevant ports lack the yard management capacity to handle a large number of docked ships and cargo in transit. Therefore, the impact of the Suez Canal incident will continue.
The Port of Gothenburg has taken countermeasures to ensure that goods in the area reach the port faster and to alleviate congestion in European ports.
Not long ago, the Gothenburg Port Authority and Gothenburg Port container terminal operator APM Terminals introduced new market offers to global shipping companies. In addition, the Port of Gothenburg also provides an opportunity to unload additional cargo. These cargoes can then be transferred to smaller feeder vessels for further transportation to other European ports. In this way, large ships can return to the transportation cycle faster.
Elver Dezanic said: “We provide the opportunity to go directly to the port of Gothenburg instead of queuing in several European ports. Here, shipping companies can unload the cargo, and the cargo can reach the customer quickly.”
In addition to having the opportunity to ship directly to the Port of Gothenburg, shipping companies can also enjoy additional discounts.
"We hope to do everything possible to contribute to solving the problem of the Suez Canal congestion. Price is always a factor, and many companies eventually increase their costs due to this congestion. The sooner the Port of Gothenburg returns to its normal state, it will be important to every company in the logistics chain. The better the company." Elville Dezanic said.
Open short-distance shipping terminal
As the main cargo transshipment hub on the European continent, the Port of Gothenburg plans to open a short-distance shipping terminal dedicated to container transportation within Europe. The terminal is operated by APM Terminals.
Elville Dezanic said: “As the epidemic spreads, shippers move part of their global production system closer to Europe, and new logistics models are also evolving. Short-distance shipping is a growing market segment, and we are very I am glad that APM Terminals can meet the market demand in a timely manner and at the same time expand the overall service range of the port."
As the destinations of short-distance shipping are concentrated in Europe, storage and transshipment facilities close to the dock area need to be provided to enhance flexibility and further encourage transporters to shift more intra-European freight from roads to more environmentally friendly shipping.
"As a global company with close ties to Europe, we have gained good experience from the short-distance shipping solutions previously launched. At present, we are working hard to develop new solutions to meet the needs of the Swedish market." APM Terminals Managing Director Dennis Olesen (Dennis Olesen) said.
The new terminal can also handle coastal and inland shipping matters. The loading and unloading of barges and small ships constitute the main link of these modes of transportation. At present, the short-distance shipping terminal is adjusting and improving the loading and unloading system.
Elville Dezanic said: "This is a typical example of the benefits of systematic thinking. It further expands our scope of services and gives us even more reason to call ourselves an'unrestricted port'."
Investment is still expanding
The Gothenburg region has been rated as the "Best Logistics Location in Sweden" by the Swedish trade magazine "Smart Logistics" for 20 consecutive years. The Port of Gothenburg's global service network and its ongoing investment plans are key factors in achieving this ranking. Nevertheless, the port still faces challenges.
As a large port, the Port of Gothenburg has performed well in the past year, especially in terms of finances, while other cargo hubs in Sweden and abroad have been hit even more during the same period. Elver Dezanic said: "The Port of Gothenburg is in a good position to welcome the future. We will continue to expand investment to further enhance customer value and competitiveness."
At present, the Port of Gothenburg is in the expansion stage of development, and the Skandia Gateway, a channel deepening project that requires investment of billions of dollars, has already received funding. The project plans to deepen the channel from 14.5 meters to 17.5 meters.
This is one of many investment projects that pave the way for the continued growth and development of the Port of Gothenburg. Other key projects include the construction of a new Arendal terminal, digital platform transformation, and investment in coastal power and electrification.
"Logistics space is very important, this is the direction of our efforts. The next thing worth paying attention to is the logistics land with an area of 500,000 square meters, which is only a stone’s throw away from the port. We will build here in 2022. Logistics facilities." Elville Dezanic said.
Historically, cargo ships departing from the port of Gothenburg have already travelled to coastal areas of China. The port occupies an irreplaceable position in the bilateral trade between China and Sweden. Driven by the “One Belt, One Road” practice in recent years, the Port of Gothenburg has played an important role in the transportation of goods between China and the Nordic region.
For hundreds of years, this "unrestricted port" has always been facing the boundless ocean, quietly watching the arrival and departure of goods. In the new era of digital economy, it is expected that it will accept the giant ship of digital shipping and use digital technology to face the storm.