Container Terminal JadeWeserPort Wilhelmshaven, one of New Silk Road Network's esteemed partners, decided to join us for an interview in the first month of the year to reflect on the learnings of 2020 and highlight the upcoming projects in 2021. In our talk with Ingo Meidinger, Director of Sales at JadeWeserPort, we learned about the port's various services and their achievements. Moreover, we learnt about overcoming the impact of Covid-19 on JadeWeserPort, and their expectations of the future. JadeWeserPort Wilhelmshaven is on the road towards the normal and expects to continuously focus on projects that will bring them closer to the New Silk Road. In conversation with Ingo…
NSRN: JadeWeserPort is one of Germany's main port and has been in action since 2012. It has emerged as a significant player, especially when surrounded by old and established ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. Can you underline some of the significant achievements of the port and its various operations?
Ingo: The operations for JadeWeserPort began in September of 2012. By 2015, significant growth was achieved by the port with massive volumes of more than 400,000 TEUs handled at the port. In 2016, two out of the three prominent shipping consortiums decided to pick JadeWeserPort, utilising our capacity to handle large vessels. Along with these, other main achievements have been the settlement of logistics companies in our freight village, the growth of our deep freeze logistics (NORDFROST). In this way, we have become the home base for some logistics companies. We have services ranging from project cargo, deep freeze to forwarding. No matter the requirement, we can fulfil.
In 2018, the VW AUDI Group set up their CKD-operations in JadeWeserPort. From here the CKD Parts are shipped to China and India. The operations have been in full swing since 2019. And last year, we signed a massive contract with China Logistics. Once the Covid-19 situation becomes better, we will continue the project further. This massive investment will allow them to lease our land and open opportunities for Chinese companies wishing to broaden their reach in the European market. Moreover, this is our active effort to bring the traditional partner Lower Saxony and China closer along the New Silk Road.
NSRN: JadeWeserPort is partly owned by the Federal State of Lower Saxony, how does this influence the unique opportunities and strategic outlook of the port? Moreover, how does How does JadeWeserPort position itself amongst the large seaports of Northern Europe?
Ingo: So, the answer is a bit more complex. Our company is 100 % owned by the Federal State of Lower Saxony, we are in charge for the marketing of the port and the lease of our plots in the freight village. The JadeWeserPort Realisierungsgesellschaft is 50.1 per cent owned by Lower Saxony and 49.9 per cent by State of Bremen.
Till 2008, the ports in Germany were booming. Bremerhaven and Hamburg were completely booked. Witnessing this situation, there was a need to get a third German port in action. Of course, after Lehmann financial crisis of 2008, the situation changed completely, now-a-days we face an overcapacity in the terminal market with growing competition, not only in Rotterdam or Antwerp, also in the Baltic and the Mediterranean.
We work in cooperation with the other ports, being a deep-sea container port has natural advantages and we are the first or the last port to call and without any required adjustments. By this, Germany could avoid losing more volume to the western ports and we could help to solve some of the peak problems in Hamburg or Bremerhaven. A joint venture of Eurogate and APMT is our terminal operator, they have set up a terminal especially designed for large container vessels, with huge cranes and more than enough space in the backyard to store containers. We work closely with them, which helps both the ports provide support and create a strong front in Wilhelmshaven.
In Germany, we are pressured from ports like Rotterdam, that are large and very well established. We also face pressure from Mediterranean ports like Piraeus. Thirdly, big vessels are going over to the Baltic sea. To tackle these forces, the ports in Wilhelmshaven, Bremerhaven and Hamburg must work together and coordinate their actions. At some level, these cooperation's are already taking place, yet deeper collaboration can surely help to make our position stronger.
NSRN: As an esteemed partner of the New Silk Road Network, how do you see JadeWeserPort as part of the New Silk Road ecosystem? Moreover, what opportunities can you carve for the SMEs that wish to engage with your port?
Ingo: As mentioned, China Logistics' investment in our freight village will initiate our closer ties with the New Silk Road. In the beginning, they would set up a 40,000 sqm warehouse space, for example, for all goods, like granite, stones, automotive, E-commerce or temperature-controlled logistics. This space will become a gateway for Chinese companies who wish to engage with the European market by giving them quicker access. This hub will offer a wide variety of solutions to sustain the needs of these companies. It will also provide SMEs with the opportunities to directly approach the Chinese companies and offer them services such as customs or trucking. They are also looking into rail connections to offer rail opportunities on top. The motivation for them is to be the entry point for the German market.
NSRN: Were there any disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic raged across continents? What were its effects, and how were they mitigated to prevent any severe troubles? The virus was also tangentially responsible for causing container imbalance, so what effects of the container shortage are witnessed at JadeWeserPort? And how are they tackled? Can one expect this situation to settle in the coming months?
Ingo: Thankfully, we have all been safe here, the numbers of incidents are not that many in our area at the moment. However, there were disruptions in terms of business procedures. Some of our contracts, planning and admin procedures were disturbed. In terms of China's investment, there is still lots to be done, but as both parties are unable to travel and meet, things are moving slower.
Eurogate had lost some throughput because of coronavirus, but we are expecting to return to normalcy this year. We are witnessing a massive increase in the sea freight, where quotes are sometimes reaching $10,000 and one cannot rely on carrier rates. There is also no guarantee of equipment and space at the same time. The situation for forwarders is challenging now, and one cannot say when the problem will improve.
NSRN: Since JadeWeserPort has large capacities and is a growing ecosystem in itself, what are the future projects to keep an eye on for the port? What can we expect in general for the port in 2021?
Ingo: Well, actually, we have some exciting developments in our freight village in the pipeline, these developments cover all kind of logistics starting from Automotive, to chemicals or trade. This year is going to be a good time for some real estate developments.
The construction of the multi-user hall 'ATLANTIC One' is in full swing, and by the second quarter of this year, we will see it in action. This would serve regional companies in outdated setups to move to a more modern area and avail the facilities. The project developer and investor Peper & Söhne are constructing a hall with around 12,000 m², with an additional 745 m² of office and social space. We are quite excited for all that is in store for our port for 2021.