Port of Antwerp-Bruges hit by economic downturn

Port of Antwerp-Bruges container throughput plummets in 2023

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges has reported a 6.3 per cent reduction in container throughput in tonnes and 7.2 per cent in TEU in 2023 compared to 2022.

As a result, overall throughput in 2023 was 271 million tonnes of cargo, a 5.5 per cent decrease from the previous year.

In contrast, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ market share in the Hamburg-Le Havre range increased by 0.6 per cent to 30.2 per cent in 2023.

The port recorded a 2.1 per cent decrease in liquid bulk traffic in 2023, while noting that fuel throughput is increasing due to substantial increase in diesel and paraffin, while petrol and fuel oil are declining.

Following a significant post-Covid rebound between spring 2021 and September 2022, conventional breakbulk throughput volumes returned to pre-pandemic levels.

In comparison to 2022, overall throughput at the port decreased by 18.8 per cent. Steel handling, the largest product category under conventional general cargo, declined by 16.9 per cent as a result of a decline in European steel output and weaker demand, with exports (-15.5 per cent) outperforming imports (-17.9 per cent).

READ: Port of Antwerp-Bruges maps out sustainable rail model

The throughput of unaccompanied cargo (excluding containers) transported on RoRo vessels was also down by 1.5 per cent.

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges also observed that the dry bulk sector is down 13.9 per cent from last year.

In 2023, 20.156 seagoing vessels called at the port, representing a 4.2 per cent decrease. The overall gross tonnage (GT) of these vessels increased by 2.6 per cent to 657 million GT.

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Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said: “We had seen it coming for some time that 2023 would not be a great year. After all, as a port, we are at the centre of economic and geopolitical challenges.

“But, with a powerful strategy, the merger and an efficiency exercise, we have managed to organise ourselves in good time and are even gaining market share in the Hamburg-Le Havre range. Especially in more turbulent waters, it is essential that, using our strategic plan as a compass, we keep sailing in a focused manner in the right direction. We will therefore continue this in 2024.”

In December 2023, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and the Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak (PKNP), a state development agency in Malaysia, forged a strategic cooperation to develop the Port of Lumut.

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