Port of Antwerp limits damage thanks to container handling

The port has recorded a decline in the transshipment of all goods flows, but is able to limit the damage thanks to container handling, which maintains the status quo.

In comparison to most other ports in the Hamburg-Le Havre range, Port of Antwerp is holding up very well. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on global production and logistics chains, and a pandemic-driven drop in demand, the port remains 100% operational.

After a few less favourable months in May and June, container handling recorded stronger volumes in August. Thus, the container traffic remained almost unchanged on an annual basis, with -0.6% in TEU compared to last year. The number of blank sailings has been reducing since August. Shipping companies are also organising extra runs outside the regular sailing schedules, which is partly compensating for the effect of the blank sailings.

For breakbulk, with steel as the main product, the impact of global trade issues has been felt since 2019 and the shutdown of some industries due to the coronavirus crisis has led to a sharp drop of 24% by 2020. After a few better months in June and July, there was another relapse in August.

Conventional transshipment of fruit did grow, but these volumes are rather limited. The total transshipment of new vehicles fell by 32%, and that of second-hand vehicles by 25%, in 2020 compared to last year.

As for dry bulk, the picture is varied. Kaolin, scrap and fertilisers are relatively stable, while the other product groups, such as coal, are under pressure and in decline. In the liquid bulk segment, throughput has been falling by 7.2% in 2020. In the case of oil derivatives, there is a recovery shift mainly on the discharge side, because the supply side always held up relatively well. Transshipment of chemical products in the first eight months of this year was down 6.2% compared to the same period in 2019.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp, commented:

The impact of the shutdown of the global supply chain due to the coronavirus crisis has been felt from the second quarter onwards and will affect the total throughput of goods this year. At the same time, we are seeing the first signs of recovery and both the global and European economies are picking up

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