AS the most ''westerly port of the Baltic'' Hamburg is a close neighbour to the three Baltic States. It is their traditional bridge to the west. Its strong historical links date back to the Age of the Hanse. Although the Hamburg port economy takes a positive long-term view regarding cargo turnover opportunities and possibilities for future co-operation in the Baltic area, the present economic activities remain at a low level. Total cargo turnover east-and westbound on the Baltic route has decreased since 1989 reflecting the general economic downturn. The sea-borne traffic between Hamburg and the Baltic Sates fell from 1.8 million tonnes (1989) to 1.4 million tonnes (1993). Nevertheless, the Baltic States are among the 10 most important sea-borne trading partners of the Port of Hamburg. The container throughput in the port (TEU - 20 foot equivalent units) increased by 46.9 per cent in 1993 versus 1992 to reach 4,022 TEU and by 23.3 per cent in the first five months of 1994 compared with the same period in the previous year to reach 2,167 TEU. Outgoing cargo increased over-proportionately by more than 100 per cent. Loaded box traffic in both directions is now almost balanced. However, ships sailing from the Baltic States to Hamburg carried twice as many empty as full containers in the first five months of this year. To these cargo handling figures should of course be added cargoes routed via Russian and Finnish ports. Especially, in container traffic Finnish ports play a very important role. Unfortunately, no exact figures are available. The rapid growth of container traffic results from the increasing use of Hamburg as a trans-shipment port for the Baltic States. Ten liner services have built up regular connections with Hamburg. Transit traffic of the Baltic states via the Port of Hamburg increased by more than 200 per cent from 1992 to 1993. Hamburg's numerous port operators are equipped to handle all kinds of goods, including petroleum and petroleum products, cardboard paper and building materials.