Port of Gdańsk and Its China Connection Mid-pandemic

Breakbulk Spoke with Mateusz Dawidowski, Chief Representative in China for the Gdańsk Port Authority, About the Port’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Q: What precautions have been taken at the port?

In addition to the normal efforts of protecting the Port of Gdańsk, goods from China are subject to special supervision as they access the Baltic Sea, the surrounding port area and through the hinterland. The inspections mainly are concered with the movement of sea cargo, as the Port of Gdańsk is the first unloading port for Asian goods directly to Poland by deep-sea container vessels.

From the land side, the control is a two-stage process. In the case of rail, it is carried out at the Belorussian and Ukrainian borders, and then again when the trains enter port areas. However, in the case of cargo coming from the south and west, the control is carried out only at the port, due to the fact that we are one of the Schengen member countries, a group of 26 European countries that act as one with border controls at the region’s external border.

Q: What impact do you think this outbreak will have on the port industry and the shipping industry as a whole? How long will it take to recover from the outbreak? 

At Port of Gdańsk’s facilities, there is no downtime from when loads are sent and received, and to and from the territory of Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In the coming weeks, we expect cargo handling may decrease due to shortages in the supply chain. This applies mainly to the automotive market.

On the other hand, we have received information about cancelled arrivals from Asia, and expected arrivals of vessels with cargo loads of only 10 percent to 15 percent. This applies primarily to regular Ocean Alliance and 2M services. We expect a decline in container transshipments in February and March.

it is difficult to determine the scale and absolute numbers of the virus outbreak impact, but we expect to return to previous volumes in April.

The decline in transshipment is mitigated by a significant increase of volumes on feeder lines. Last year Port of Gdańsk opened direct train connections with Xian. To answer our Chinese clients' needs, we increased the frequency of shuttle train services between Malaszewicze-Gdańsk and Slawkow-Gdańsk.

For the entire port, we plan to maintain current transshipment levels in other groups of goods: primarily in liquid fuels and coal. Besides, the planned establishment of new regular shipping lines to other regions of the world, both short-range and ocean-going, will largely compensate for the loss of container volume.