Dienstag, 04.08.2020 21:52 Uhr

Ports: border closures interrupt critical supply chains

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Brussels, 18.03.2020, 17:54 Uhr
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Brussels [ENA] The representation of 200 inland ports in Europe (EFPI) has warned that border closures due the coronavirus will seriously affect critical supply chains. The organization today called on its member states to take measures to ensure the continued operation of ports at this time. EFPI had been monitoring the situation since earliest reports of disruption and put in place multimodal shipment and staff contingency plans.

Over half of all goods traffic between North Sea ports and the hinterland travels by inland waterway shipping, the Brussels-based EFPI says. The organization brings together ports and port authorities in 18 countries of the European Union, Switzerland, Serbia and Ukraine highlighting the role of European inland ports as real intermodal nodal points in the transport and logistic chain, combining inland waterway transport with rail, road, and maritime transport. EFPI sees its role as a unique voice of inland ports underlining that its members as multimodal hubs critical to the smooth and continued functioning of multiple European supply chains play a key role for the European economy during the coronavirus crisis.

EFIP called on the relevant European and national authorities to ensure borders remain open for the transport of goods and facilitate the uninterrupted supply of goods across borders. EFIP is particularly concerned by reports of restrictions currently in place for inland shipping between inter-EU borders. Such instances of disruptions to the supply chain would have “serious negative impacts” at a time when critical supply chains needed to be maintained and supported, the statement read. EFIP president Friedrich Lehr said: “In this challenging time, the correct measures need to be taken to ensure Europe continues to supply for its citizens, and inland ports are central to these critical European supply chains.”

European inland ports had been monitoring the situation since the earliest reports of disruption and had put in place contingency plans related to multimodal shipments and personnel. Inland ports would continue to play their role and ask that national and European authorities also play their role in ensuring they can continue their critical functions. According to the EFIP's 2019 annual report the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) transport budget must be increased to a total investment of 500bn euro to ensure that its Core network is completed by 2030.

To give a rough idea about inland waterway sector volumes the Central Rhine Commission supra-national watchdog published the following figures in its 2019 annual report: In Rotterdam, the largest European seaport, 123,859 inland vessels were loaded or unloaded in 2018. Rotterdam is a market leader by total throughput, as it holds 36.7% of market shares, followed by Antwerp (18.6%), and Hamburg (10.6%). The volume of loaded or unloaded cargo at the port of Rotterdam was 152.8 million tons in 2018 (-4% compared to 2017). This decrease could be a consequence of the low water period in the second half of 2018. The fleet of European inland vessels totals 15,000, according to the report.

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