1st Flemish Week in North Rhine-Westphalia – Antwerp promotes itself as the state’s home port and seaport

Publication date: 
18 Mar 2019

The Port of Antwerp is demonstrating its significance and position as the home port for the North Rhine-Westphalian industry during the 1st Flemish Week in the state. More than two thirds of its foreign trade already passes through the Western European ports and the Port of Antwerp is the second-most important of them after Rotterdam; this was clearly emphasised during a port event in Düsseldorf on Monday, 18 March. Many representatives from the worlds of politics and business also discussed the future development of freight flows and the expansion of intermodal transport links between Antwerp and North Rhine-Westphalia during the event.

The Port of Antwerp had invited major players and partners from the transport and logistics sector as well as shippers and state politicians from North Rhine-Westphalia to the “Rheinterrasse” in Düsseldorf to attend the event entitled “Port of Antwerp – Home Port and Seaport for North Rhine-Westphalia”. The highlight of the specialist programme was a panel discussion involving Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Antwerp Port Authority, and Hendrik Wüst, Transport Minister in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
“Antwerp is an important site for the global import and export flows to and from North Rhine-Westphalia. Conversely, the inland waterway ports in the state are vital partners for Europe’s second-largest seaport as trimodal hubs for freight flows in the hinterland. We’re aiming to further strengthen this partnership in future through the cooperation agreement between North Rhine-Westphalia and Flanders, which was signed on 18 January 2019. The Port of Antwerp and the hinterland ports on the Lower Rhine benefit from having excellent inland waterway infrastructure,” said Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst. He also called for infrastructural improvements in favour of transport operations beyond Duisburg in order to permanently increase the cost-effectiveness of inland waterway shipments and generate further modal shift potential. “We need a rapid implementation of the work designed to deepen the riverbed as well as measures to optimise inland waterway shipping along the river Rhine,” Wüst said.  

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Antwerp Port Authority, added: “North Rhine-Westphalia has a strong industrial base and is the starting and finishing point for many value-added and logistics chains, in which the Port of Antwerp is firmly integrated. We’re expecting an increase in freight traffic of more than 40 percent on this route by 2030. To accomplish this, we need efficient, cross-border infrastructure, particularly for rail services, as well as hubs to consolidate and further distribute the goods along the Rhine region.”

Sustainable modal shift

One of the major factors in the Port of Antwerp strategy is to achieve a sustainable modal shift for freight flows. The share of cross-border railway freight traffic is set to rise from a current figure of about 15 percent to 20 percent in 2030. The share of inland waterway traffic is due to be expanded from 38 percent at the moment to 42 percent during the same period.

The upgrading of the rail link is particularly important for the North Rhine-Westphalian industry. This will mainly focus on the realization of the 3RX railway route – an alternative to reviving the historical “Iron Rhine” route. This 3RX line runs from Flanders via the Dutch cities of Roermond and Venlo, reaches the German railway network near Kaldenkirchen and then continues to Duisburg via Viersen. The implementation, which has been included as a top priority in Germany’s 2030 Plan for Federal Traffic Routes, is set to take place in such a way that it creates minimum disturbances for local residents. 

“North Rhine-Westphalia is an important trading partner for Flanders. With this Port Day, we make it clear that as the port of Antwerp, we see cooperation with this state as a priority. As the largest petrochemical cluster in Europe with a 740 kilometre pipeline network straight to the German hinterland, we have a lot to offer North Rhine-Westphalia. As strategic partners, we will together put our shoulders under the supply chain of the future”, outlines Port Alderman Annick De Ridder.

Flemish Week in North Rhine-Westphalia

Flanders is organising the “1st Flemish Week in North Rhine-Westphalia” on 17 – 24 March. The different facets of the cooperation between the two regions are due to be the highlights at many cultural and information events held in several cities in the state. Flanders and North Rhine-Westphalia have enjoyed a long-standing partnership. This includes cooperation schemes in transport, chemicals and energy, education and integration, for example. Once the new government in Flanders took up office, it breathed new life into issues like upgrading cross-border transport corridors. Round-table discussions focused on the health sector, a joint visit to schools to exchange ideas regarding education and an energy conference with workshops on e-mobility and renewable energy sources have all been planned to take place during the Flemish Week, in addition to the event organised by the Port of Antwerp.