The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge have completed their long-awaited merger – as bosses predict a “tsunami” of containers coming into the ports.
At the extraordinary general meeting of 22 April 2022, the two European cities signed the shareholders’ agreement of the unified port company to become Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
In February 2021, the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges announced the launch of the merger process for their respective ports.
As a leading container port by tonnage – with 159 million tons/year – Port of Antwerp-Bruges said it will meet container capacity due to global growth and recent developments in the international logistics chain.
Port of Antwerp-Bruges will capitalise on the strengths of both port locations and focus its strategy on containers, breakbulk, RoRo traffic and chemicals.
Bosses believe Antwerp-Bruges will play a crucial role in major freight flows and reinforce its position as one of the main gateways to Europe. The unified port has also become Europe’s largest export port – with 147 million tons/year.
“We’re faced with global disruptions: entire logistics chain being shaken up,” commented Annick De Ridder, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp and President of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
“Hundreds of ships are waiting outside of Shanghai that will flood like a tsunami to [Europe] and the United States.”
De Ridder added that the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is working on a ‘Container Plan 2022-2030’ to bolster capacity from 15 million TEU to 22 million TEU annually.
Elsewhere, Port of Antwerp-Bruges said it will invest strategic infrastructure including the Europa Terminal in Antwerp, as well as the New Lock and the Maritime Logistics Zone in Zeebrugge.
“[Congestion] is a huge problem,” De Ridder continued. “In Antwerp we are at maximum capacity.”
COVID-19 lockdowns in China and elsewhere have led to uncertainty throughout the supply chain: combined with a lack of capacity in container availability, container analysts Drewry has estimated that carrier profits will soar to $300 billion in 2022 as freight rates continue to rise.
The US will also bear the brunt of vessel and container backlogs making their way over from East Asia. Earlier in April PTI reported that vessel queues outside of Los Angeles and Long Beach are climbing once again.