Freight News, Sea

Antwerp and Zeebrugge to create Europe’s largest export port

[ April 28, 2022   //   ]

The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge officially merged on 28 April, creating Europe’s largest export port and a major gateway in many other sectors of the market, including containers and ro ro.

The two Belgian gateways will henceforth market themselves as Port of Antwerp-Bruges. It follows the signing of a shareholders’ agreement for the unified port company by the cities of Antwerp and Bruges on 22 April.

The unified port provides no fewer than 74,000 direct and 90,000 indirect jobs and with an added value of nearly €21 billion or 4.5% of Belgian GDP, making it by far the largest economic engine in the country.

It will be Europe’s largest export port, at 147m tonnes a year, and also be the largest for vehicles, the largest integrated chemical cluster and one of the leading container ports in Europe.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges also plans to take a leading role in energy and digital transition.

It will be the leading container port in Europe by tonnage – 159m tonnes a year. It is currently implementing the Extra Container Capacity Antwerp (ECA) project, and in the longer term on a ‘Container Plan 22-30’

Other strategic infrastructure includes the Europa Terminal in Antwerp, as well as the New Lock and the Maritime Logistics Zone in Zeebrugge.

The two ports said they were largely complementary in terms of the traffics handled and origins and destinations served.

Antwerp has strengths in containers, breakbulk and chemical products, while Zeebrugge is a major port for  to to traffic, container handling and liquid natural gas. The two ports hope that, by working more closely together, they can increase their combined market shares.

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges also plans to become a green energy hub and help shape the energy transition towards a sustainable future. The unified port will continue a project to capture, storage and reuse CO2.

Antwerp’s position as the second largest petrochemical cluster in the world and the coastal position of Zeebrugge could also help Antwerp-Bruges take a leading role in the hydrogen economy, and is working to expand terminal capacity for existing and new hydrogen carriers at both ports.

Annick De Ridder, Antwerp vice-mayor and president of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges said: “The unified port is not only the economic engine of Flanders, but together, the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge will also form the largest export port , largest throughput port for vehicles, and the leading chemical hub in Europe. At the same time, Port of Antwerp-Bruges has major ambitions to become the energy gateway to Europe as a ‘green port’. In short, Flemish economic history is being written here today”.

Dirk De fauw, Bruges mayor and vice-president of Port of Antwerp-Bruges added: “I am convinced that this merger will lead to sustainable growth in economic activity and jobs in both sites, and boost Flanders’ international reputation around the world. Together, we are stronger.”