Angela Titzrath has been observing China’s economic and technological development for more than 25 years. Born in Essen in 1966, she graduated at 18 and studied economics and romance philology. From 1991 to 2012, she held various top international management positions at Daimler, worked as a member of the Supervisory Board for various companies and organizations, and as a consultant and lecturer.
Since 2017, she has been Chair of the Executive Board of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), with more than 6,300 employees across the entire global Group and revenues of more than €1.4 billion in 2021. “My many professional stations have taken me to many different continents and have been formative for my current position,” she says. Now she wants to further develop HHLA. Once a classic port operator, the company is steadily evolving into a European logistics company. The focus here is on sustainability.
Angela Titzrath first traveled to China in the late 1990s as part of her career at Daimler. At that time, there was exactly one ring road in Beijing. Then, as today, Titzrath was fascinated by China’s beauty and culture, but also by the people’s eagerness and open minds for new things. Over time, the highway network has grown to an impressive size. The fishing village of Shenzhen has achieved the status of Asia’s Silicon Valley.
‘The Silk Road is not a one-way road’
HHLA stands for 136 years of history, but also for forward-looking concepts: For example, Modility, which is something like the website Booking.com for combined transports. Or HHLA Sky GmbH, which offers technology for controlling drones and was awarded the 2021 Innovation Prize in the start-up category. There is great potential for innovation, both within the Group itself and in cooperation with China. For example, Chinese manufacturer Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) shipped three 2,480-ton container gantry cranes to Hamburg in 2019. They can also be used to handle very large ships.
In recent decades, Hamburg has become the hub of German trade with China, says Titzrath: “60 percent of container throughput in the Port of Hamburg comes from China or is destined for China.” In 1982, the first Chinese freighter had docked at HHLA’s Tollerort terminal. Today, Tollerort, one of HHLA’s three terminals in the Port of Hamburg, is a hub for liner traffic operated by COSCO Shipping Lines. “With the 35 percent minority stake of COSCO Shipping Ports Limited in our smallest terminal, Tollerort, we are putting an exclamation mark behind what has been an ongoing, downright friendly relationship for 40 years.”
She responds to critics who see investments by Chinese companies in key infrastructure as a risk: “Just as the Silk Road is not a one-way road, neither is the economic relationship between China and Germany.” China is an intensive global partner and customer not only in the port terminal sector, but also in rail freight transport and logistics. In addition to COSCO, HHLA handles ships of the shipping company China United Lines in Hamburg. So there are many links to network even more closely with China: “We have the ambition to grow together, to further develop logistics flows and to further expand markets.” Daniela Krause