Polish message from Transport Week 2014
Transport Week, a conference hosted by the Port of Gdansk, is an event with aspirations for the opinion-forming port and maritime circles from all over Europe. On 4-6 March 2014, the 4th edition of the Conference was held.
It was devoted to key issues regarding the operation of the transportation market in the Baltic Sea Region, and Eastern and Central Europe. During plenary sessions and panel discussions the issues of European Commission's maritime policy, new objectives for TEN-T, competition in the container market, logistics and the need for intermodal transport development were raised.
Numerous speakers noted that seaports are economic barometers of the regions they serve, and the pick up in their performance usually anticipates overall economic situation. Economic recovery, perceptible globally since the end of the last decade, can also be observed in Baltic ports. Out of the record handling operations (in 2013) that totalled over 30.2 million tonnes of cargo, one third arrived in or left the port in containers. The Port of Gdansk ranked second (after St. Petersburg) in terms of container handling in the Baltic Sea Region. In addition, the port found itself among the top 100 largest container ports in the world. Participants in the Transport Week 2014 Conference came to the conclusion that the Port of Gdansk had permanently become Europe's easternmost continental port and a European port of the 4th generation. The port serves as a hub (as for Gdansk, not only for containers but also for liquid fuels, and after the commissioning of Dry Bulk Terminal in the Port Polnocny also for dry bulk cargo), providing full accessibility for intermodal transport. It also complies with high safety standards (including environment protection), and, finally, focuses industrial development.
These opinions were a subject of, e.g. an interesting panel debate (conducted by Mr Wlodzimierz Rydzkowski, Professor of Economics at the University of Gdansk) entitled Ports of Gdansk and Gdynia - a choice between complementariness and competition. It was participated by: Ms Dorota Raben - President of the Board of Port of Gdansk Authority SA, Mr Walery Tankiewicz - Vice-President of the Board of Port of Gdynia Authority SA, Mr Krzysztof Szymborski - President of the Board of Baltic Container Terminal Gdynia SA and Mr Dominik Landa - Commercial Director of Deepwater Container Terminal in Gdansk (DCT). The diversity of businesses pursued did not prevent the participants from arriving at a joint conclusion that the optimistic future of Polish ports of the Gdansk Pomerania region, but also West Pomerania, is driven by the economic development of Poland and hinterland countries. The achieving of this objective should be favoured by a coherent maritime course in the state's economic policy. It will be only then that Polish ports will be able to compete with European rivals for their due location in the TEN-T network. The cooperation between Polish ports, especially between close neighbours from Gdansk and Gdynia, is possible in the technical field, e.g. through joint purchasing of electricity to benefit customers. Joint actions for sorting out and standardising VAT regulations became a success as well. Polish ports also took a common stance in requiring city authorities to properly apply property tax regulations, and charge levies for land perpetual usufruct and construction of access infrastructure. However, there must be competition or rivalry between port terminals and port service providers, because it usually results in favourable changes for customers.
In this context, an attempt made in a discussion to transfer the experience gained based on the collaboration between German ports of Hamburg, Bremen and Bremer Haven to the seaports of Poland did not find any advocates. Economics cannot tolerate the influence of politics. It follows its own well-established rules. Like transport logistics, it does not tolerate... carrying air and will revise the sense of building logistic centres in every location where no customer will appear with cargo. Polish ports will serve their strategic functions for the Polish economy only if they are provided with stable working conditions. The 21st century development opportunities require urgent implementation of all road and railway projects so that motorways, expressways and high-speed rail will connect Polish ports with border crossings in the south and east of Poland. While Polish members of the European Parliament must permanently seek the maintenance of external conditions for competition in the European Union, it is the coherent state maritime policy that will ensure the development of the Polish ports internally. This message was heard during both official and unofficial discussions at the Gdansk Transport Week 2014.
PGA SA PR Officer