BMI View: Polish ports will have a good year in 2015, but the Port of Gdansk is set to be an outperformer in box volumes by rapidly surpassing our previous growth estimates with a huge 30% year-on-year rise this year, up from our 8% forecast last quarter. Tonnage throughput at the port will decelerate slightly, but the port has excelled recently in being added to the G6 Alliance's weekly Loop 7 Asia service. This both diversifies Gdansk's connections to Asia and solidifies the port as a major competitive force in the Baltic region. The port will also reap the rewards from a new liquid berth terminal. The port of Gdynia will see solid growth of between 6-9%, exceeding Gdansk's growth in tonnage throughput terms.
Our real GDP growth forecast for Poland in 2015 remains at 3.5%, up from 3.2% in Q1, and we expect growth of 3.7% in 2016. Poland is still very much dependent on the eurozone, leaving it vulnerable to German supply chains and exports to Russia and Ukraine. It is also vulnerable to the strengthening Swiss franc - nearly 40% of mortgages are held in Swiss francs - which could still hold back Polish household spending. However, the inclusion of Gdansk in the G6's Loop 7 suggests that Poland could be on its way to opening up beyond its immediate region and the eurozone, increasing its protection in the long term against multiple European political and economic fragilities.
Headline Industry Data
2015 port of Gdansk tonnage throughput forecast to grow 4.0% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 33.569mn tonnes. Over the medium-term to 2019, we project a 4.5% average annual increase.
2015 port of Gdansk container throughput forecast to grow 30.0% to 1.58mn twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Over the medium-term, we project an 13.8% average annual increase.
Port of Gdynia tonnage to increase 8.8% to 21.116mn tonnes in 2015, with five-year average annual growth at 7.0%.
Port of Gdynia container handling growth predicted to be 6.7% in 2015 to 905,674 TEUs, with growth set to average 6.4% in the medium-term to 2019
2015 total trade growth forecast down by 4.95%, a significant fall from an estimated 6.4% in 2014.
Key Industry Trends
Major Coup For Gdansk In G6 Alliance Loop: From August 2015 the port of Gdansk will begin hosting a G6 Alliance ocean container service on the Gdansk-Asia route at the port's deepwater terminal DCT Gdansk. The G6 Alliance market giant will include Gdansk in the weekly Loop 7 service which calls at Qingdao - Shanghai - Hong Kong - Yantian - Singapore - Rotterdam - Hamburg - Gdansk - Southampton - Singapore - Yantian - Qingdao. The G6 Alliance is formed of six shipping container companies APL, Hyundai Merchant Marine, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), Hapag-Lloyd, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and Orient Overseas Container Line (CL). The group's decision to include Gdansk on Loop 7 is confirmation that the port is growing in importance and we expect a sharp rise in container numbers throughout the rest of 2015. The Port of Gdansk was previously lined up for coverage in the G6's Loop 3 service in 2012, but was snubbed due to the failure to secure a berthing window.
New Gdansk Liquid Berth Terminal Opens: In June 2015 tankers began calling at the newly built T1 berth at the Liquid Fuel Base at the Port of Gdansk. The PLN40mn T1 berth investment by Naftoport was completed in December 2014 but only passed its technical compliance procedure in the summer of 2015. The berth will handle petroleum products and has been built in mind of the nearby PERN oil terminal, which it will be connected to by a pipeline system. The new berth represents an investment into the rising trend of oil imported by sea as well as increasing capacity for more large ships to call at the port, as well as increasing the operational capacities of other berths at the terminal (in particular P, R and T).
Audit Office Urges Investment Into Ports: Poland's Supreme Audit Office (NIK) urged that the Polish ports of Gdansk and Gdynia and the seaports of Szczecin and Swinoujscie will need increased financial aid to compete with other Baltic port competitors. Although these four ports saw a boost in almost 20 million metric tonnes of cargo between 2006-2014 as a result of rising GDP, increased trade and modernisation of transport infrastructure, the NIK argued that more money would improve availability further. For the ports of Gdansk and Gdynia it concluded better access by land would be the best way to invest, whereas for Szczecin improved sea access would help.
Risks To Outlook
A eurozone slowdown remains the biggest downside risk for the freight and shipping sector. This could be worsened by a 'Grexit' scenario, but as Greece leaving the eurozone looks increasingly unlikely, a German recession remains a more likely source of concern as Germany takes around a quarter of Poland's exports. However, while our previous forecasts put German growth at 1.5% in 2015, we have since revised that upwards to 1.9%.