The potential of the Amber Coast region and its natural hinterland for the transport and logistics sector in Europe must not be wasted. This and other postulations were expressed by representatives of the transnational project called "Amber Coast Logistics" at the Baltic Sea Days in Berlin. Guests included international ambassadors, members of the Bundestag and representatives of companies and associations, besides German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
"The southern and eastern Baltic Sea region as well as Northwest Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine are among the most promising logistics regions of Europe. However, development of the transport and logistics infrastructure in these countries has been inadequate at best," said Axel Mattern, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing, the marketing organization for the Port of Hamburg, as he explained the background of the "Amber Coast Logistics" project (ACL) during the foreign trade conference "Baltic Sea Forum on the Baltic Sea Region” in the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. "There are regions with low accessibility for the transportation of goods. We want to change this with ACL." Port of Hamburg Marketing is the lead partner of the EU-funded project, which has existed for around half a year. 19 other partners from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Denmark and Germany are involved, including representatives of ports, logistics locations, public authorities and research institutes.
The Baltic Sea Forum took place as part of the Baltic Sea Days to which invitations were extended by the Federal Foreign Office on the occasion of the 2011/2012 German Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The conference was mainly directed at companies and institutions of industry and trade from member states of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle opened the event. He reminded everyone that cooperation between neighbouring Baltic Sea countries is not self-evident. There must be consistent and continuous work on the establishment of this important economic community.
ACL workshop at the foreign trade conference
During its presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Germany put modernisation of the south-eastern Baltic Sea region on its agenda, especially elimination of the economic and infrastructure difference between the north-western and south-eastern Baltic Sea region. Through the project "Amber Coast Logistics" this task will be conferred on the transport and logistics industry. Backgrounds and the objectives of ACL were discussed at the foreign trade conference with around 50 international guests in the context of a workshop. The event was moderated by Kurt Bodewig, Federal Minister (ret.) and Chairman of the Board of the Baltic Sea Forum: "The Baltic Sea Forum on the Baltic Sea Region with around 550 participants provided a unique opportunity for the project to establish additional contacts to representatives of neighbouring Baltic Sea countries. The establishment of a transnational logistics network in the south-eastern Baltic Sea region is one of the most important goals of ACL. This is because only with strong partnerships can we also achieve the necessary organisational improvements for optimisation of the transport connections." The Baltic Sea Forum, a non-governmental association for promotion of the Baltic Sea region, is one of the 20 partners in the project. Besides Axel Mattern, speakers included Dr. Eugenijus Gentvilas, CEO of the Klaipeda State Sea Port Authority, as well as Mathias Roos, Project Manager of the EU project "East West Transport Corridor II" and Project and Communication Manager at Region Blekinge.
Parliamentarians informed about ACL
ACL project partners also presented their goals and results thus far to around 20 parliamentarians in Berlin during the course of the 11th port breakfast in the Hamburg embassy. Marina Rimpo, Project Manager of "Amber Coast Logistics" with Port of Hamburg Marketing, pointed out a few examples of some problems that confront logistics players in the southern and eastern Baltic Sea region. They included the different gauges of the railway network between the former Soviet Union and Western Europe as well as different VAT rates for imports from third countries into the common customs union of White Russia, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. During the course of the project, challenges like these are analysed and recommendations for improvement are compiled in policy papers that are submitted to politicians at national and EU levels. "The port breakfast brought together members of the Bundestag from all fractions and informed them about the EU project. We are delighted that the parliamentarians have already signalled their support," says Kurt Bodewig.