Port of Antwerp 9-months freight volume up on dry bulk

Total freight volume handled by the Port of Antwerp rose 1.1% January through September compared with the same period last year, the Port Authority reported Wednesday.

Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units were up by as much as 6.4%, the Port Authority said in a statement. The volume of dry bulk such as scrap metal, minerals and coal soared by 9.5%, propelling the port’s overall freight growth. However, the slowdown in the world economy reduced the growth rate of more volatile trade flows such as conventional breakbulk, liquid bulk and vehicles.

According to the Port Authority, with growth of 5.7%, the container freight is by far the largest category in the port of Antwerp. This growth can mainly be seen in the transhipment of containers, but this volume is also expanding as a result of more imports and exports. All trading regions with the exception of Latin America recorded positive growth.

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 Authority said.

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

Global trade uncertainties are continuing to have an impact on breakbulk freight flows, resulting in an overall drop of 9%, according to the Port Authority. 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.

— Annalisa Villa