One can argue about whether the deepening of the Elbe has "failed" because the federal government can no longer get the growing amounts of sediment in the fairway of the Lower Elbe under control. For the future red-green coalition in Lower Saxony, this is now - in the coalition agreement - the very official view of the next state government. Of course, Lower Saxony always pursues its own interests for its JadeWeserPort in Wilhelmshaven - just as Hamburg sometimes alienates its neighbors when it comes to its own port matters. But for Hamburg, the new assessment from Hanover is very inopportune. The Senate of the Hanseatic city must finally make it clear – at the latest with the new port development plan: Hamburg will not accept the years of stagnation as Germany's largest seaport.
The Chinese group Cosco wants to buy parts of the port of Hamburg. Critics fear that China will have too much influence in Germany. Hamburg is under a "high pressure to maintain strong China business," says WELT economic reporter Olaf Preuss.
The circumstances for this are difficult: Talks between the terminal operators HHLA and Eurogate about cooperation were stopped after years. Energy Senator Jens Kerstan (Greens) made a gross miscalculation when unsuccessfully campaigning for a floating import terminal for deep-frozen, liquefied natural gas (LNG). And the political dispute over the participation of the Chinese state shipping company Cosco in the Tollerort terminal shows that Hamburg has to reconsider its high dependence on China trade.
All in all, the setbacks of the past few months reinforce the false impression that the Port of Hamburg has passed its peak. An active panel of experts from the "Hamburg Convention" recently pointed out that science should be massively expanded, especially near the quay edges, as the port business can only be stabilized anyway. Hamburg should follow the example of the old port city of Boston - today a world metropolis of knowledge.
But Hamburg is not Boston, but Germany's largest port and - as a direct derivation - Germany's largest industrial city. The future does not mean “fewer” ports, but rather becoming better: as the fastest and most ecologically strong port internationally, in the combination of logistics, digitization, industry and energy transition. Hamburg must become the most advanced port in Europe when it comes to importing, processing and using "green" hydrogen, for example, in close cooperation with Stade and Brunsbüttel. Even after the fossil age, the Hanseatic city can remain Germany's number one energy port - the more strong local science contributes in the future, the better. Without a strong port, however, Hamburg's gate to the world will also close.