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Marek Grzybowski (3 ) questions for Charles Baker, CEO, DCT Gdańsk

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By: Marek Grzybowski

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The record volume of 2.1 million TEUs in 2021 testifies to the confidence and trust our clients have in DCT Gdańsk, coupled with DCT’s high-quality services and its excellent location. The development of the Polish economy is particularly visible and we hope for the same in neighboring countries and the Baltics. The recovery in the region is crucial for the development of shipping at higher levels. The construction of the third terminal – Baltic Hub 3 – marks the opening of a new era in container handling on the Baltic Sea. DCT Gdańsk is Marek Grzybowski true 21st-century terminal, and the Baltic Hub 3 development will bring the latest low-carbon technology which any port would be proud of
An exclusive interview  for eBlueeconomy with Charles Baker, CEO, DCT Gdańsk, and 3 questions

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Global logistics map

Marek Grzybowski: 2021 – this is a record year for DCT Gdańsk, the largest container terminal in the Baltic Sea. You lead Poland’s largest container terminal. You are is an experienced and accomplished leader in the port and shipping industry. How would you describe DCT as a point on the global logistics map? 

Charles Baker: DCT Gdansk has pretty much been growing every year except in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The record volume of 2.1 million TEUs in 2021  testifies to the confidence and trust our clients have in DCT Gdańsk, coupled with DCT’s high-quality services and its excellent location.  The result once again shows that we are a true Baltic transport hub and gateway to Poland as well as Central and Eastern Europe.  I’m proud that we are the largest terminal in the Baltic Sea, and our increase from 4 to 4 rail tracks, each >750m long, raising rail capacity to 750,000 TEU p.a., and our planned 3rd Terminal we take DCT Gdansk to the next level and hope to be a true hub competitive to ports in Western Europe.

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global shippers

Marek Grzybowski: Global logistics has had a hard time with the Covid-19 pandemic. The DCT result fell slightly below 2 million TEU in 2020 due to disruptions in the supply chains. The shipping market quickly recovered from the pandemic. How do you evaluate the shipping market today?

Charles Baker: What we have witnessed in the global shipping market in 2020 and 2021 is truly remarkable.  From thinking that the global demand would crash (like during the GFC 2008-09) in 1Q2020, to seeing now bulk-vessels converted to containerships and companies like IKEA and Amazon chartering tonnage as all possible vessels are taken up is unprecedented in the container universe.  I would expect 2022 to be equally as challenging for global shippers and shipping lines in terms of shipboard capacity, port and logistics network congestion, lack of truck drivers, and now we can add cost inflation.  Perhaps the arrival of newbuilds into the network in 2023 will start to ease the situation, but port congestion in the US and North Europe (not Poland!) is a vital challenge to be overcome for  “normality” to return.

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The development of the Polish economy is particularly visible and we hope for the same in neighboring countries and the Baltics.  The recovery in the region is crucial for the development of shipping at higher levels. For example, if we exclude Poland and Polish ports from the rest of the Baltic Sea, we will find that the port market will not grow in 2020-2021.

Some of the main challenges like labour availability (drivers), home-working practices, need to automate processes, cyber-security, vessel availability, and significant cost inflation are really difficult to see how they can be solved in the short-term as the effects of the pandemic have radically changed the structure and patterns of our work and social lives.  I think we are witnessing challenges in the global shipping and transportation market that we have never experienced in our lifetimes.

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Baltic Hub 3

Marek Grzybowski:  DCT Gdańsk is the leader among container terminals in the Baltic Sea. The terminal has two stages of development behind it. A third stage is planned. In what direction will DCT Gdańsk develop?

Charles Baker: The construction of the third terminal – Baltic Hub 3 – marks the opening of a new era in container handling on the Baltic Sea. DCT Gdańsk is a true 21st-century terminal, and the Baltic Hub 3 development will bring the latest low-carbon technology which any port would be proud of. Baltic Hub Terminal 3 will open new opportunities from mid-2024 for additional direct shipping services from the major shipping routes, perhaps TransAtlantic,

Reefer trades, India and the Middle East, Africa, etc., and greatly enhance our ability to service our customer’s requirements.  It is also a significant boost in supporting the growth of Poland and surrounding economies. With this investment, Poland can continue to compete with western European ports such as Hamburg, Bremerhaven, and Rotterdam.

Adding a third terminal will allow the DCT to serve not only the Polish market but also the entire Baltic region and Poland’s landlocked neighbors in times of change brought about by IMO2023 which aims to reduce carbon emissions from global shipping and where feeder routes to the Baltic States are shorter via Gdansk than our German and Dutch rivals.

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