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Visiting Mertert, Luxembourg: the largest port of the landlocked Grand Duchy

Updated on January 28, 2012
Flag of Luxembourg
Flag of Luxembourg | Source
Tanklux at Mertert
Tanklux at Mertert | Source
Mertert | Source
Map location of Mertert, Luxembourg
Map location of Mertert, Luxembourg | Source

Tax credits instead of tonnage fees for merchant vessels on Luxembourg's Maritime Register

Yes, even though Luxembourg is landlocked, the fact that the Mosel River (1) washes the eastern border of the Grand Duchy has given the government and business community considerable opportunities to enhance the country's economic growth.

Grand Duke John of Luxembourg officially opened the port of Mertert in 1966, work on which started in 1964. The logistical economies in scale that the existence of such a port has created are very significant. While the success of CargoLux's air freight business, based at Luxembourg's Findel airport, has been enormous, the routing of surface freight through the port of Mertert instead of by road or greatly reduces transportation costs. (Consider the importance to US-Canada trade of shipping on the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway and the manner in which economies in scale effect savings compared with those of land-based transportation.)

And just in case it goes unnoticed, the main port of Luxembourg, known in French and German as 'Mertert', is actually not given this spelling in Letzebuergesch, designated the national language of Luxembourg. In Letzebuergesch, it is written: 'Mäertert'.

With the existence of a major port such as Mertert, the reality of Luxembourg's Maritime Register also comes into play. Given its port facilities, then Grand Duchy has of course every right to a maritime register. The fact is that it is not strictly necessary for every ship on the register to visit Mertert before being included on the register.

It is in fact, greatly advantageous for shipping around the world to be connected with the Maritime Register of Luxembourg. An example of the 'clear skies' thinking of the Grand Duchy's government in this regard is that the owners of a vessel on Luxembourg's register, instead of paying a conventional tonnage tax, receive a tax credit as investors would on capital investment. (This also forms a built-in incentive for firms with shipping registered in Luxembourg to keep reinvesting and renewing their fleet with new vessels.) As might be imagined, this is an aspect of business which is rapidly growing, with more than 150 merchant vessels registered in Luxembourg. For both Luxembourg and shipping firms particularly committed to renewing their vessels, this lucrative business becomes a matter of enlightened self-interest. It also represents a movement away from the traditional concept of sometimes inefficiently administered 'flag of convenience' registries with often poorly maintained, aging fleets.

Interestingly, 40% of goods sent to the European Union from China pass through Luxembourg. This certainly evidences the dynamic nature of logistics business in the Grand Duchy.

Mertert was the birthplace of artists Jean-Pierre Beckius (1899-1946), who, in his work, celebrated scenes along the Mosel Valley, and his daughter Triny Beckius (1942-).


(1) Re. 'Mosel': this is the German spelling: Luxembourg's portion of the river is shared with Germany, situated on the eastern bank of this great river. The French spelling is 'Moselle'; the spelling in Letzebuergesch, designated the Grand Duchy's national language, is 'Musel'.

Also worth seeing

Mertert itself has a church, with twin spires, dating from the 19th century; a local war memorial traces often overlooked details of the Nazi German occupation of Luxembourg. Mertert is situated on the scenic Mosel Valley, boat tours along which are regularly available.

Luxembourg City (distance: 31 kilometres); visitor attractions include: the Grand Ducal Palace, the Pont Adolphe over the Pétrusse Valley; the former ARBED building; the St. Quirin chapel and many others.

Nennig , Germany (distance: 26 kilometres) has a well-preserved Roman mosaic in an ancient villa.


How to get there: The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg Airport (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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