Port of Antwerp experiences growth in first quarter

Friday 10 04 2020

The total freight volume handled by Port of Antwerp rose by 4.0% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. The container volume in particular made up for the decline in other freight categories such as conventional breakbulk and vehicles. The impact of the corona crisis remained limited in the first three months of the year.

 

Container volume still rising

With growth of 9.5% in TEU and 9.4% in tonnage the container trade remains by far the largest segment in the port of Antwerp. There was a noticeable increase in the amount of pharmaceuticals and e-commerce goods, and there was higher demand for long-life foodstuffs. With the exception of a slight decline in goods from the Far East (down 2.2%) all trading regions experienced strong growth.

Breakbulk under pressure since last year

The vicissitudes of world trade since mid-2019 continue to weigh on the breakbulk volume. This has resulted in a total decline of 27.8%, with imports being hit harder than exports. The volume of iron and steel, the most important category in this segment, continued its negative trend with a contraction of 36.8%. The shutdown in the car trade inflicted a double blow on the breakbulk volume, with reduced steel imports on the one hand and an 18% drop in the number of new cars on the other. The total ro/ro volume was down by 20.3%.

Bulk freight remains stable

The dry bulk volume at the end of the first quarter was slightly down, by 1.2%. During this period three times as much coal was handled than in the same period last year due to increased speculation in this commodity. In the meantime scrap metal experienced light growth, while other types of dry bulk such as fertilisers, ore and sand came under pressure and are trending down. 

 

Liquid bulk for its part held steady, only slightly down by 0.7% due mainly to slower economic growth and fluctuating oil prices. The volume of chemicals experienced growth of 4%. Oil derivatives for their part were up by 1.3% while crude oil by contrast was down by 13.5% at the end of March.

Number of seagoing ships holding up

A total of 3,476 seagoing ships called at Port of Antwerp in the first quarter of 2020, some 1.2% fewer than the first quarter of 2019. Their combined gross tonnage fell by 3.4% to 98 million tonnes.