Boom period about to end
Social trends are strongly reflected in the traffic numbers of ports. Almost the entirety of Finnish foreign trade is transported by sea, via ports.
According to the Bank of Finland, the economic growth in Finland nearly came to a stop during the last quarter of 2019, and 2020 started with moderate growth. There are differences between the various sectors: the growth of the chemical industry, for example, has remained strong, where as the growth of forest industry has failed to manifest.
The trade war between the United States and China, the faster-than-predicted slowdown of Chinese economy, and Brexit all have extensive impacts on global economy. The uncertainty decreases and postpones investments. Growth has also slowed down in the Eurozone, and is not expected to speed up in the near future due to political instability.
Boom period about to end
The general economical uncertainty can also be seen in the results of SPC Finland’s shipping company barometer, which were published in early 2020. It seems that the boom in seafaring and shipping company businesses is ending. The transport demand in the Baltic Sea and North Sea regions has dropped and forecasts predict no significant change in this situation in 2020. The forecasts depicting the import and export of Finnish sea traffic have also evened out notably.
Like in previous years, the prices of sea cargo transport are declining. After several years, the price increase in fuels has finally stopped, although it is estimated that the prices will rise again during the following season.
The moderate growth of sea passenger traffic should continue
Movement between Helsinki and Tallinn has increased significantly in the 2000s, and the passenger numbers of ferry traffic on the route have increased. Today, nearly 9 million people travel by ship over the Gulf of Finland annually.
Cruising operations in the Baltic Sea region are growing by about 5% annually. The Cruise Lines International Association CLIA believes that the moderate growth will continue.
Responsibility is essential
The challenges of climate change also apply to seafaring operations, and Finland has plenty of good examples of pioneering companies that are utilising and developing more environmentally-friendly seafaring solutions. Energy efficiency is highlighted in passenger ferry traffic, and this is supported by the operational model applied to the Baltic Sea, where passengers and cargo are transported on the same ferries. Many technical innovations and alternatives that replace traditional fuels, such as LNG, are already used by many.
Like its owner, the City of Helsinki, the Port of Helsinki is also committed to the goal of achieving a carbon-neutral Helsinki by 2035.
Competition between ports becoming more intense
The competition between Finnish ports is becoming more intense. The Port of Helsinki will continue to maintain its solid position in the centre of Finnish production, population and consumption. The busy liner traffic to Europe, the improved unitized cargo services, good infrastructure and a new kind of focus on passenger experience will remain the Port’s competitive advantages into the future.