Port of Le Havre signs strike recovery agreement and discusses HAROPA merger

HAROPA Port of Le Havre. Credit: HAROPA

The Port of Le Havre signed an agreement, on 2 March, to implement a recovery plan in response to disruptions caused by the French national strike during December 2019 and January 2020.

The Port also announced through its joint venture, and common institution, HAROPA, that it will merge with the Ports of Rouen and Paris, part of the Seine Axis, by 21 January 2021.

The EUR6 million recovery agreement is split between three initiatives aimed at the port clients most affected by the strike and to incentivise new business to the port.

These include:

–          A 30% reduction on port duties for the period January to February 2020 for all shipping companies that continued to call the port of Le Havre, representing an investment from the port of EUR2million

–          All new services calling at Le Havre from 1 April 2020 will receive a 30% discount on port duties for the next two years, which will represent an investment of EUR1 million

–          Storage costs of import containers, covering the 14 days of national strike activity between December 2019 and January 2020, a EUR30 discount per container per day will be applied amounting to a EUR3 million investment on behalf of the port and terminal operators to cover the 100,000 containers impacted by the strike

The HAROPA port merger, which is backed by the French Prime Minister Eduard Philippe, signals continued investment in the ports to compete with the major hubs of Rotterdam and Antwerp. It also means a stronger resilience against the general volatility of the maritime market or further strike action in France.

“HAROPA port of Le Havre will continue to invest in the future, EUR600 million are already dedicated to build two new berths and increase the volume of the port from 3 to 4million teu. The port will be able to accommodate new larger 24,000 teu capacity vessels,” said Laurent Foloppe, sales and marketing director HAROPA, at a press conference.

The three ports are public institutions and commercial establishments, according to HAROPA.

“HAROPA will be one company with one governance from January 2021, this is to be stronger and be able to continue to play in the champions league of the main ports of Europe,” concluded Foloppe.

This is part of a trend of port cooperation agreements and mergers to streamline operations and compete with larger port hubs, for example, the Canadian ports of Vancouver, Fraser and North Fraser merged in 2008. In China, rather than compete, the ports of Ningbo, Shanghai, and Lianyungang have settled on regional cooperation and streamline investment and planning.