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Antwerp’s sixth record year

(Posted on 24/10/18)

Transhipment continues to register growth in the Port of Antwerp. After record semi-annual figures, the total transhipment after nine months stands at 177,026,550 tonnes – a sharp 6% increase compared with the same period last year. With these results, the port seems to be on track for the sixth record year in a row. The recent wave of investments moreover confirms the port’s appeal and reaffirms its role as a world player. 

The transhipment of dry bulk grew by 1% compared with the same period in 2017. This is due in particular to the bigger transhipment of fertilizers (+11.2%), sand and gravel (+23.9%) and coal (+3,3%), because the other traffic (ores, kaolin, cereals and scrap) were volatile in the previous period and are currently posting a drop.
Liquid bulk posted strong growth figures, up 5.7% to 57,652,877 tonnes. Imports grew by 9.1%, exports by 0.5% which is a considerable recovery after a drop of 12.2% in the first quarter.

After a long period of negative figures, the total breakbulk transhipment is showing the first signs of recovery once again and has posted a slightly positive figure.

Whereas the conventional breakbulk cargo still posted a loss of 6.5% after 6 months by comparison with an exceptionally strong first half of the year in 2017, a slight increase was registered in the third quarter. As a result, the loss on an annual basis was limited to 2.7%. The reason for this is a recovery in iron and steel imports. Steel imports from China registered strong growth in the third quarter, whereas steel imports from Turkey and India dropped further. The surge in steel imports from China can be explained as a reaction to the European Commission’s quota-based safeguard measures. They were introduced in July to protect the European steel market against a possible flooding as a result of the 25% import tariffs imposed on steel by the United States.

Iron and steel exports grew by 4.9% after 9 months. Iron and steel exports to the US were 8% higher than in the same period the previous year. The total transhipment of iron and steel grew by 1.9% after nine months.

Maritime transhipment continues to grow. Container traffic registered robust growth yet again, up by 7.1% (98,436,773 tonnes) compared with the first nine months of 2017. In terms of Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), transhipment grew by 6.8%, to 8,333,523 TEU.

All shipping areas registered growth, both imports and exports, with the sole exception of exports to Central America which registered a slight drop.

Transhipment for the largest shipping area, Europe, registered the strongest growth: 12.4%. Transhipment for North America grew by 8.2% and for Asia by 2.2%. Imports from China after 8 months stand at the status quo more or less, while exports are 6.7% lower. Owing to the Chinese import ban on old paper and plastic waste, export of full containers to China declined and more empty containers are exported.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO, Antwerp Port Authority: “2018 is already a peak year for our port. Not only because of the record figure that we can present yet again, but also because of the wave of investments in recent months. The decision of major players in the chemical industry such as Borealis, Ineos, Nippon, Sea-Mol and Oiltanking/AGT to opt for Antwerp confirms and reaffirms our strong appeal as the largest chemical cluster in Europe. The significance of this wave of investments, to the tune of some €2 billion, cannot be stressed enough. They will make an essential contribution to the sustainable future of our port and to the continuity of our role as the biggest economic driving force of our country.”

Port Alderman, Marc Van Peel,: “Sustainable growth for our port is possible only if we make sure that it remains accessible to people and goods. We are assuming our responsibility on this front, together with the port community. The recent expansion of the route of the successful waterbus is a fine example of a structural solution to the mobility challenge. On the goods transport front, we are aspiring to a modal shift by 2030, with a drop in goods transport by road and an increase by rail and inland navigation.”

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