The port authority reviews its tariffs annually, which typically involves an increase of 2% to 2.5%. Last year, as the crisis began to make itself felt, the port decided to raise tariffs by only 1.75% for 2009. Tariffs will now return to their 2008 level.
In the case of cargoes of products like fruit, steel, paper and wood, which are considered to be more labour intensive, tariffs will be reduced by 10%. Antwerp is the leading port in Europe for this type of cargo, the port authority said in a statement. The cut in tariffs aims to ensure that traffic is not diverted elsewhere. But the tariffs reduction is dependent on employers and trades unions in the port making improvements in workforce efficiency.
“Nobody can deny that the port of Antwerp has lost some trade in past years due to the overly rigid work organisation in freight handling,” commented Marc Van Peel, the city’s alderman for port affairs. “We expect to see clear signals from both sides of industry before 1 January on their willingness to make significant improvements in the efficient use of dock labour,” added port CEO Eddy Bruyninckx.