Hamburg benefits from Russia’s WTO membership

Positive result of the first year: more and more Russian companies take up their business in the Elbe metropolis

Hamburg benefits from Russia’s WTO membership

Hamburg, 21 August 2013 – The start of Russia’s WTO membership on 22 August 2012 gave trade relations with Europe a significant boost. Hamburg, in particular, benefited from the improved economic conditions. “The dismantling of trade barriers strengthened Hamburg’s role as the most important hub of Russian trade with the European Union and overseas“, says Jutta Ludwig, CEO of HWF Hamburg Business Development Corporation. Meanwhile, some 150 companies with a Russian parent are active in Hamburg. 25 of them came in the past twelve months with support of HWF.

Cargo throughput via the Port of Hamburg also increases above average. Next to China, Russia is the port’s second most important trade partner in seaborne container traffic. In 2012, container handling with Russia increased by 13.3 per cent to 676,000 TEU. In the first six months of 2013, container traffic between Hamburg and Russian ports continued to grow significantly, with volumes climbing by 8.3 per cent to 343,000 TEU. The positive development is rooted in the introduction of several new Baltic Sea feeder lines, serving also the Russian ports of St. Petersburg and Ust-Luga. Roughly 92 per cent of Russian traffic via the Port of Hamburg is handled by the Russia’s Baltic Sea port of St. Petersburg.

Russia positively comments on this development. Ivan Khotulev, Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Hamburg, states: “Russia’s WTO membership brought along the liberalisation of trade to all WTO member countries. Reduced custom duties offers also favourable conditions for Hamburg-based entrepreneurs. I am convinced that trade volumes of seaborne cargo shipped via Hamburg will continue to head to new heights. The potential is immense.“

But no only goods find their way to Hamburg. Also Russian companies appreciate Hamburg as an important business location. Some 150 companies have already settled in Hamburg, the majority with support of HWF. Logistics, shipping and food trade have been the dominating sectors of Russian relocations so far. Today, Hamburg also increasingly attracts companies from the media and IT sector.

Background: Russia’s WTO membership

On 10 July 2012, the State Duma, the lower house of the Assembly of Russia, ratified the country’s entry to the World Trade Organisation WTO. With the bill signed by President Putin and passed into law, Russia has been a full member of WTO since 22 August 2012. Thus, the way has been cleared for the further removal of trade barriers. 18 years of negotiations preceded this step. Russia’s commitment now includes, amongst others, to lower its import duties from today’s 9.5 per cent to roughly six per cent. The effects caused by the reduction of trade barriers are illustrated exemplary by China. Since the accession to WTO, German foreign trade with the Middle Kingdom increased by almost five times. Container handling with China via the Port of Hamburg quadrupled.