SeaNews Turkey interviewed with Senator Frank Horch, head of the responsible Ministry for Economy, Transport and Innovation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg during a delegation visit to Istanbul.
SeaNews: Dear Senator Horch welcome to Istanbul. We are very pleased to have you here as our guest. What is the purpose of your trip?
Frank Horch: Yes. Community between Germany and Turkey, and especially between Hamburg and Turkish people are very close. Many many thousands of Turkish people are living in Hamburg also the enterprises are more and more in Hamburg. And the contact from economy in Hamburg and Turkey is quite positive and beyond the way. And therefore we would like to build up a close relationship and that was one of the main purposes of this delegation trip. We would like to see what opportunities are there in the field of renewable energy, after our turnaround in energy power and at least in the maritime sector we are quite on the same way. On outgoing with Hamburg and Istanbul are on the same platform.. That is the main reason to our trip here, to İstanbul.
SeaNews: What did you do in Istanbul? How was your program?
Frank Horch: We have it build up by political note mainly held in Ankara and then in the two groups by renewable energies our green group, these are members from renewable energy sector and the other group the blue group these are people acting in shipbuilding, in maritime activities, in trading and different kind of activities in maritime business.
SeaNews: How is the situation of Hamburg Federal State among the other federal states in Germany?
Frank Horch: From the economic aspect we are one of the most striving economic area in Germany. We are not the largest country but from GDP we are on the 6th place in Germany from 16 th countries. This describes by small country like Hamburg as the economy is the power we are near to 100 billion GDP and therefore Hamburg from location from our economic mix of huge companies like Airbus, Lufthansa Technik; but more than %80 medium size companies in different kind of activities and businesses. Therefore in this mix, it is a location and a logistic hub and many many things coming together on the place of Hamburg. We have very positive prospective situation of the future and that chances to build up as the economic platform in Hamburg is quite well.
SeaNews: Hamburg is a very important shipbuilding center and luxury yachts, special purpose ships are built, refitted or repaired in Hamburg shipyards. How is the latest situation in the shipbuilding industry? How was the situation in the crises? Who are you competing with in the world market?
Frank Horch: Yes the crises in the shipyards and shipbuilding is running over many many decades, when I finished my studies in shipbuilding at the end of the 1970’s, the crises started and that was the reason why I left the shipbuilding industry and take an other profession. These crises are continuing and we look back, at that time 50.000 people employed in shipbuilding industry and when we are looking at the actual situation now we are 4000/5000 people in Hamburg, therefore it was a tremendeous drop down of the shipbuilding industry, and by the shipyards for sale, well named like Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), Stülcken, and many many others are away.
At least today is the most important shipyard in Hamburg is Blohm and Voss. I worked for them as a managing director. Sietas Werft changed in general, the owner was changed and the new Russian owner starts a business now and there are some smaller ones. Therefore it was a tremendous change in the shipbuilding industry in Germany and it depends from different things and competition with the shipyards in Asia, in Korea, in China. And we are not in the position to compete with them. So far it was way going down in Hamburg in Shipbuilding but not only in Hamburg and you can look to the other places in Germany is the quite the same situation. So then we are looking now what we can do? I see the way for the German shipyards only an other headline of innovation. We can only look for specialized shipbuilding for offshore industry, for chances in supply industry for shipbuilding. Today many many components are coming from Germany all over the country not only from the northern part of the country and Hamburg and we are going to Bavaria and Baden -Württemberg lot of maritime companies engine builders are there and often times %50 of ship build this components from Germany. And in this field of supply industry we see the chance. That is the reason we build up as the cluster for maritime industry and bundle the knowhow and bring together the enterprises, the knowhow and bring together the high schools, the universities. That’s the way of philosophy in this case of innovation where the competition is not only find out by cost we have to say this is knowhow, we can bring in good service additional to this that’s the way of German shipbuilding.
Mrs. Fulya Tekin Istikbal, our editor-in-chief, interviewed with Mr. Frank Horch during his visit to Istanbul, on early June, 2014
SeaNews: What business opportunities are there in Hamburg for Turkish people in Maritime Industry?
Frank Horch: Yes all over this we build up special frameworks from the government side, we make a framework for industry; we make a framework for aviation in Hamburg. We have 8 huge cluster initiatives in Hamburg where we bundle all this knowhow under the headline of innovation, science and bundle the activities between the economies, between the universities, search institutes and we are from the government side we build up the framework and coordinate this.
Delegation trips are parts of this philosophy to bring the actors together and to say we are on the same trip together so they can learn and they can participate from this. On the other side, on top of these clusters we have a lot of institutions in Hamburg the business development area, cluster initiative I told when they have interests in finance start ups we build up a special bank, an investment bank for small size company, for start up companies. And all these cases by technology by financing support by contact places there interest in one stop shop from the industry from small size companies that are interested in knowhow interest in contacts the other places so we set up a lot of places for knowhow as a one stop shop how we can support and the country of Hamburg or the town of Hamburg do a lot in these activities. This is the way of our philosophy in economical affairs.
What is your message to Turkish Maritime Cluster, the people from the industry?
Frank Horch: The Turkish companies are deep involved in our clusters. There is no difference between German and Turkish companies and you know also in our parliament, in different places, in chamber of commerce whatever Turkish people are quite normal partners in all these communities.
Therefore there is no difference between a Turkish company and an individual trader in the town or an industrial or handicraftsmen… We take them as a normal person as normal enterprises in our activities. Especially in support by financial things, through this investment bank we support them, we inform them about the chances in Hamburg. There is our way. We are not dealing with money. We do not say that “come to Hamburg because the taxes are low”. We concentrate on the innovation and other things in our framework of our cluster initiatives.
What can you say about the pilots and the pilotage in Hamburg from the maritime safety prospective?
Frank Horch: The pilots in Hamburg are the best pilots in the world, because the pilots each day makes a fantastic job. The conditions on River Elbe, ongoing from the Nord Sea than going 120 km down to Hamburg or up to Hamburg whatever is a very difficult area and with the increasing sizes of the ships, this is a very hard job to manage all these activities by the tidal arrange. Therefore total management on the Elbe traffic, together with the pilots that is for sure an excellent job. I have a higher respect and I am in a very close contact with them. I know each pilot personally, not %100 but % 80 percent. Therefore these services are very important for the port of Hamburg with regard the restrictions that we have. The deepening of Elbe is one of our major problems, by the increasing sizes of the ships. At the moment the pilots are in a situation to fulfill this, excellent job. And we have no problems because the pilots together with our management from the port and from the Elbe Traffic are working together in such a close contact.
SeaNews: How is your project about Elbe River?
Frank Horch: The adaption of the Elbe River is the project running over in 10 years now. All the plans are all ready and we investigate this very deep in all cases of flora, fauna, habitat from the ecological side; from the nautical side and from all cases what are relevant to this deepening of River Elbe. Deepening of River Elbe is not deepening by 1.5 m all over the river from Hamburg to Nord Sea, but there are some hubs and we have to eliminate this. Therefore we are not saying there is the deepening of the River Elbe, this is the adaption of River Elbe. In some cases there we need a little bit more depth for the Elbe. The normal depth of River Elbe is 12.5 m, then by the tidal range 13.5 m by high water. And then by this 13.5 we have a time range, a window where the ships can ingoing. They are waiting in the German Bight. We are starting the flood to go into the river Elbe. It takes 5/6 hours then the big ships start on the highest level of the tidal range, and are ingoing to river Elbe. And for this process we need time but the time is limited. 5 to 6 hours, and in this window we need more depth on the route from Nord Sea to Elbe. Therefore we need a medium depth of Elbe in this time window of 14.5 m. So the depth of river Elbe we increase from 12.5 to 13.5. Now our goal is 14.5m. We need this for the time window.
SeaNews: How are your impressions about İstanbul? Have you visited some of the major attractions of the city
To read the interview in full extent, refer to the June issue of SeaNews Magazine (Paperback). You can subscribe the paperback magazine by clicking the link below: