The international logistics project Amber Coast Logistics (ACL) was officially concluded last week in Hamburg with the handover of the recommendations for action summarised in a final report. ACL project coordinator Marina Rimpo, Port of Hamburg Marketing (HHM), handed over the brochure at the closing conference to among others Uwe Beckmeyer, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and coordinator of the German Federal government for the maritime sector.
“ACL has shown how important it is to plan national transport and logistics strategies not only with a view to national interests. The politicians are also called upon in this respect,” said Marina Rimpo. In addition to Mr Beckmeyer, Andreas Rieckhof, State Secretary of the City of Hamburg, Ministry of Economy, Transport and Innovation, and James Pond, Senior Advisor for the TEN-T Corridor “North Sea-Baltic” of the European Commission, were among the first recipients of the recommendations for action. “We hope that consideration to the results that we have elaborated within the framework of ACL will be given in your further political work,” added Marina Rimpo.
The conference entitled “Challenges, concepts and recommendations – the transport and logistics sector in the Baltic region” brought the ACL project to a successful conclusion after a period of around two and a half years. Some 120 international experts from politics and business took part in the high-level event organised by HHM, the lead partner of the project.
HHM had initiated the Baltic Sea project in October 2011. For 30 months, 19 project partners from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Germany, including representatives of ports, logistics companies, public authorities and research institutes worked hand-in-hand with the goal of promoting multimodal transport links in the Southern and Eastern Baltic Sea region, and in particular to offer remoteregions better connections to the existing transport corridors.
“The Amber Coast Logistics project is a good example of how the economic relations between the countries bordering the Baltic Sea can be strengthened. The networking of the logistics chains brings the countries of Eastern and Western Europe even closer together. That will further strengthen the European Economic Area,” said Beckmeyer, underlining the importance of ACL.
James Pond emphasised the significance of the project in the context of the European Commission’s transport strategy in his opening address: “The goals of ACL are in line with the new TEN-T Core Network Policy,” said Pond. One of the most important tasks of ACL had been to link the hinterland in the Southern and Eastern Baltic Sea region, in particular Belarus, better to the existing transport corridors. This was also one of the greatest challenges in establishing the Core Network corridors.
One of the prominent speakers in the first theme session of the conference was Kurt Bodewig, retired Federal Minister, Board Chairman of the ACL project partner, Baltic Sea Forum, maritime ambassador of the European Commission and Chairman of the governmental commission for sustainable infrastructure financing. “Germany has a functioning infrastructure, but even it is becoming outdated,” said Mr Bodewig.
Leif Pedersen, owner and Managing Director of the Danish logistics company ICT Logistics presented a lively real-life report. ICT has specialised in particular on transport operations in the Baltic Sea region. Its drivers are confronted every day with a variety of problems that make the transport time and cost-intensive, including long waiting times at border crossings and the length of time taken for customs clearance – a problem that was also analysed in several project studies. “Our drivers’ waiting time at border crossings from east to west and vice versa during the course of a year adds up to 49,500 days – and that is no exaggeration,” reported Mr Pedersen. “That is money down the drain.”
In the second session, Sergey Bogdanovich, Deputy Director for multimodal transports at the Russian logistics company Krafttrans reported on “West-east transport between EU and non-EU countries”. He highlighted the positive development of the Belarussian transport and logistics sector: “In 2012 Belarus had some 1.5 million transit consignments, representing an increase of around ten percent compared with 2011.”
ACL is one of the few projects in which Belarussian partners are involved, the Belarussian Association of International Forwarders (BAIF), the Scientific and Technological Park research institute BNTU – “Polytechnic” and the economic institute of the Belarussian state university, School of Business and Management of Technology BSU.
In the final podium discussion, the speakers emphasised once again how important it is to enter into dialogue with one another. “We have to overcome not only technical or infrastructural problems, but also and more importantly organisational hurdles in order to promote the transnational transport sector in der Baltic Sea region,” said Mindaugas Butnorius, head of logistics projects at JSC Lithuanian Railways.
According to Ákos Érsek, communication and strategy advisor at the International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport, the business has to become more integrated: “The subject of transport has been the playground for politicians for far too long.”
At the end of the conference, Axel Mattern, Board member at HHM, highlighted once again the annual turnover figures of the Port of Hamburg port which had been announced just before the conference: “In 2013 we achieved a total goods turnover of 139 million tonnes in the Port of Hamburg, corresponding to an increase of 6.2%, attributable in particular to the increasing trans-shipment traffic in the Baltic region. If only to safeguard this development for the future, we will continue to work to strengthen cooperation and marketing activities to the benefit of shipping agents and the transport business in the Baltic Sea region.”