Best-ever quarter for port of Antwerp


Europe’s second-largest port has released its latest freight-handling figures, with an expansion in container traffic contributing to a record period

Leading position

The port of Antwerp has recorded its highest ever quarter for volumes of freight, thanks to record volumes in April and May and a strong showing in June. Total cargo throughput was also 0.7% higher in the first half of the year than in the same period last year, despite market uncertainty and a slowdown of growth in Europe as a whole.

The port handled more than one million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in April and May. Continued growth in the number of containers and the volume of dry bulk in particular compensated for the decline in more market-sensitive sectors such as liquid bulk and breakbulk – cargo that can’t be transported in containers.

Container freight performed strongly in the second quarter with peaks in April and May, due largely to more transhipment to and from every trading region except South America. Transhipment trade with the Far East recorded double-digit growth of 11.7%.

“Container throughput continues to expand, which is good news for our leading position in the worldwide logistics chain,” said Jacques Vandermeiren, the port’s CEO. “However, achieving the desired modal split remains a focus of attention. Ongoing efforts are aimed at getting more containers carried by rail and barge.”

A slowdown in economic growth and fluctuations in oil prices caused uncertainty among traders, leading to an overall drop in liquid bulk. However, tank storage company Standic recently announced an investment of €200 million in a new storage terminal for chemical products.

The figures also show that the sea-going vessels that dock in Antwerp are getting bigger. In the first half of the year, 7,200 sea-going vessels called at the port, 10 fewer than the same period in 2018, but the average volume was 0.6% higher.

“Antwerp is continuing on its growth trajectory despite the current international climate,” said Annick De Ridder, city councillor responsible for the port. “We are particularly proud that once again we have been able to achieve record figures in important sectors. These figures once more confirm the need for additional container capacity. I am fully convinced that together with our port companies and other partners we will continue along this growth path.”