The port of Antwerp handled 111,385,518 tonnes of freight during the first six months of this year, 2.8% more than in the same period last year. Container freight once more performed well after a number of exceptional years, with an increase of 2.5% in terms of tonnage and 1.9% in TEU. Liquid bulk, a regular climber, finished 1.8% up at the end of June.
After the previous record years these figures inspire further confidence. “We have achieved them against a background of already good performance,” declared Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren. “In 2016 Antwerp was one of the few ports in the Hamburg-Le Havre range to achieve growth figures. If after that we can once more produce a positive report then we have every reason for satisfaction.” But he also warned: “We have to look ahead; these volumes also demonstrate the need for additional container capacity in the port of Antwerp. We will do everything necessary to give the port companies the oxygen that they need in order to prosper. Our companies create employment, not only within the port itself but also far beyond. We have to keep supplying this engine of employment in Flanders,” he concluded.
Containers and breakbulk
The volume of container freight rose by 2.5% during the first half of the year, to 61,288,264 tonnes. In terms of standard boxes (twenty-foot equivalent units) it was up 1.9%, to 5,143,305 TEU.
Ro/ro freight for its part experienced particularly strong growth, up 9.2% to 2,563,466 tonnes. The number of cars handled rose by 5.0% to 651,363 units. Conventional breakbulk too expanded rapidly in comparison with the same period last year. By the end of June the figure stood at 5,374,692 tonnes, representing growth of 13.0%. The steel volume rose even more strongly in comparison with 2016, up by 17.6%. The growth was particularly strong (24.4%) on the import side, thanks among other things to larger volumes arriving from India but exports were also up by 8.8%.
After the first six months the volume of liquid bulk handled stood at 36,043,593 tonnes, up 1.8%. Crude oil and chemicals also did well, up by 34.0% and 1.0% respectively. Oil derivatives on the other hand were at more or less the same level compared with the same period last year, down by just 0.5%.
The amount of dry bulk handled during the first two quarters rose by 1.1%. Ores did particularly well (up 27.7%), which is not surprising in view of the increase in steel exports. Fertilisers too were among the growth categories, at 3.3%. Only kaolin (down 10.3%) and gravel (down 18.4%) experienced difficulties in comparison with the same period last year.
A total of 7,137 seagoing ships called at Antwerp during the first six months, 1.4% fewer than last year. On the other hand the gross tonnage was up by 3.2%, to 205,259,923 GT.