Photo: Port of Antwerp; Image by WMN

Dry Bulk Drives Port of Antwerp Freight Volume Growth

Belgium’s Port of Antwerp has seen its total freight volume rise by 1.1% during the first three quarters of the year, with growth driven by a strong dry bulk segment.

During the nine-month period, the volume of dry bulk such as scrap metal, minerals and coal soared by 9.5%, compared with the same period last year.

The container volume (in TEU) was up by as much as 6.4%. However the slowdown in the world economy reduced the growth rate of more volatile trade flows such as conventional breakbulk, liquid bulk and vehicles.

“The uncertainty in world trade has not yet had any impact on our container volume,” Jacques Vandermeiren, Port of Antwerp CEO, declared.

“In fact it is continuing to expand, thus further consolidating our world leadership position. As a consequence we are continuing to develop additional freight transport to the hinterland by rail and barge.”

The recent adjustments to the MSC feeder network, a network of smaller ships that take on freight from larger units in the port for onward transport, were favorable for Antwerp, the port said. As of the third quarter, for instance, two new services to Latin America provided additional imports of reefer loads from Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica.

Strong results in the dry bulk and container sectors were offset by a 9% drop in breakbulk volumes, which was impacted by ups and downs in world trade.

The conventional breakbulk volume, with steel as the main category, suffered a fall of 12.9%. Both imports and exports of steel are increasingly feeling the consequences of geopolitical measures that restrict the flow of trade. Only exports to Mexico and Turkey experienced growth, while imports from all producing countries suffered a decline.

The total RoRo volume for its part contracted by 2.1%, while the number of new cars handled was down by 10%, due to among other things the declining volume of new car exports in the third quarter. By contrast the decline was partly offset by an increased volume of second-hand cars, with growth of 12%.

“Port of Antwerp keeps on growing. The recent call by the MSC Isabella is a new record as the largest container ship ever to call at Antwerp,” Annick De Ridder, port alderman, declared.

“Proof that our port offers safe and easy access to megamax container carriers with deep draught. In this way we continue our sustainable growth because large ships like these significantly lower carbon emission per shipped container.”