During the first six months of the year the port handled 118,648,143 tonnes of freight, a sharp increase of 6.5% compared with the same period last year. The main driver continues to be container freight which experienced further rapid growth of 8.2% compared with the first six months of 2017.
The strong freight figures for the first quarter continued unabated in the second quarter. The container volume for its part rose by 8.2% to 66,298,043 tonnes. In TEU this indicates an increase to 5,567,905 TEU (up 8.3%). May was an all-time record month, with the port of Antwerp handling a peak container volume of more than 1 million TEU.
Growth was experienced on all trade routes, both on the import and on the export side. Despite geopolitical tensions there was a favourable economic climate with strong growth in consumer goods, wheeled vehicles andchemicals.
Trade with Europe experienced the strongest growth, up 14.2%, thanks in part to Antwerp being able to win back transhipment freight which last year suffered a dip due to a temporary shortage of dock labour. Trade with North America for its part was up by 10.3%, although the first quarter of 2017 was fairly weak. On the Asian market there was growth of 3%.
"The strong performance of the port of Antwerp, our main economic engine, is good news for the Belgian economy in general," declared Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren.
Jacques added: "The growth figures confirm our role as a leading world player and demonstrate the continuing attractiveness of the port. But they also confirm the previous forecasts that we will soon reach our maximum container capacity. During the past period we have well exceeded the optimum utilisation level for the terminals below the locks, which can have a negative impact on efficiency. We will therefore continue to emphasise the importance of having additional and commercially useful container capacity below the locks."
Port alderman Marc Van Peel said: "We appreciate the efforts of the Flemish government to arrive at a legally robust decision in favour of the complex project to build additional container capacity for our port. We now plead for a follow-up study of among other the nautical feasibility. Everybody stands to gain from a solution that will enable us to achieve the desired sustainable growth for our port."
"In this connection mobility is a constant concern for the Port Authority, to which it gives highest priority, and it goes without saying that we are prepared to take the right series of measures with all stakeholders. Creating additional commercially useful container capacity below the locks is a first step for us in the further development of the port," Marc added.