Pan-European supply routes for raw materials and end-products
There are two options: the northern supply route with major ports on the North Sea, such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg…and the southern route covering ports in Italy and Slovenia (Genoa, La Spezia, Koper and Trieste). The third option, supply from the black sea (eastern gate) is of less importance though, due to the complex hinterland connection by truck and train to end-destination. The main criteria for the selection of a destination port are cost, quality of service and delivery time to end-destination. The northern gate is the most popular one, with the three main ports receiving 30.709.000 TEU of products a year (2015), while the southern gate (Genoa, La Spezia, Koper and Trieste) has a throughput of 4.840.000 TEU.
There is a lot of competition between the North Sea ports and they perform in the same league. Hamburg, on average, is closer to Poland while both, Antwerp and Hamburg, are equally distant from southern Germany. Locations in southern Europe are closest to Antwerp. The port of Antwerp is known for a very short delivery time using advanced multi-model systems, but sometimes, is slightly more expensive. Selection of a port destination has to be done for each project individually and, also, on the basis of the end-destination. A study from the Bundesvereinigung Logisitik (DE; 2009) identified the Port of Antwerp as the best port for supply of goods from China to East-Europe. However the differences between the three main North Sea ports remain limited and parameters can change quickly.
Sources: A ‘best route’ market study for containerized imports to South Germany( 2016); Drewry. Alternative Verkehrswege von China nach Ost-Europa (2012); Bundesvereinigung Logistik (DE) and ROI Management Cons.