COVID-19: Baltic ports keep running - impact on the Baltic port and shipping industry

Mar 30 2020

COVID-19: Baltic ports keep running - impact on the Baltic port and shipping industry

The Baltic Ports Organization (BPO), in cooperation with the editorial team at the Baltic Transport Journal (BTJ), recently prepared an overview of measures introduced in the ports and shipping lines in the Baltic Sea region (BSR) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the main takeaways from the report, is the fact that all ports in the region stay operational and were very quick in responding to the restrictions applied by governments and governmental agencies. Ports play an essential role in maintaining the uninterrupted flow of cargo, which is absolutely crucial in times of a worldwide crisis.

In order to limit the possible impact on their operations, ports implemented a variety of measures, e.g. splitting their docker workforce into separate shift teams, isolated from each other and strict safety rules for other employees, including having as many as possible work from home.

In terms of an economic impact and cargo traffic, majority of the Baltic seaports are yet to be highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some ports are expecting a noticeable decrease across certain areas of their operations, such as vehicle logistics, due to manufacturing plants either shutting down or having difficulties sourcing materials or container traffic, following a general GDP contraction worldwide, leading to smaller import/export volumes.

Up till now, passenger traffic suffered the most. Closure of national borders led to both ferry and cruise traffic evaporating virtually overnight. Despite the fact, that a number of ferry services have been put on hold, there hasn’t been an instance of sea trade being completely suspended between any two countries. While the final end-year outcome concerning freight traffic is hard to predict, the Baltic port passenger market will, in all probability, have to sustain a heavy blow in 2020.

Bogdan Ołdakowski, Secretary General, BPO, said:
“Baltic ports have proven during this extraordinary situation, that they are very flexible and are quickly adjusting to restrictions, thus securing smooth transshipment of freight across the sea borders. Continuous supply of goods, including medical products, food and other daily products is critical for our societies. BPO would like to thank the dockers and other port employees for their efforts in these difficult times. It is their hard work that allows the ports to stay open.”

The report also features a rundown of the restrictions introduced by countries in the BSR. In order to keep the economies running and provide the citizens with necessary supplies, cargo traffic is being maintained all across the region. No lockdowns on freight movement have been introduced.

European institutions are working on measures aimed at protecting the proper functioning of the EU single market, as well as schemes thanks to which companies, finding themselves in a tight spot because of the pandemic, may stay afloat.

BPO will continue to follow the impact of COVID-19’s pandemic on the ports and shipping markets in the Baltic providing actual insight for BPO members and maritime industry.

The report can be downloaded directly from our website, by following this link.