Freight News, Sea

Brexit boosts Antwerp business

[ July 13, 2021   //   ]

Transhipments with the UK and Ireland are showing positive figures says the port of Antwerp, saying that new shortsea connections in response to Brexit contributed to a 5% increase in traffic at the Belgian Gateway, to 120m tonnes in the first six months of 2021.

With an annual cargo flow of around 15 million tonnes, the UK is the third largest maritime trading partner for the Port of Antwerp. The start of Brexit at the beginning of this year created major challenges due to increased controls, which resulted in congestion, longer transit times and higher costs. As a result, the flow of goods between the EU as a whole and the UK is decreasing, says the port. But despite these difficult conditions, Antwerp recorded growth in total throughput of 11.1% with the UK and 12.1% with Ireland in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2020.

In preparation for Brexit, Port of Antwerp put all its efforts into further expanding short sea connections with the UK and Ireland and is now connected with 12 British and Irish ports. It says that Irish importers and exporters are increasingly abandoning the land bridge via the UK and are instead opting for direct maritime connections. For example, Eucon, an Irish shipper, has expanded its shortsea sailings from Antwerp to Ireland with an additional ship, mainly between Antwerp and Dublin.

Containers, the only cargo type that has continuously grown since 2014, were up by 4.3% in the first half of the year compared to 2020, and by 3.9% compared to 2019 (in tonnes).

RoRo also did very well in 2021 and increased by 22% compared to the first half of 2020.

Conventional breakbulk rose by 41.2% compared to 2020 and equalled the throughput of the first six months of 2019. Iron and steel, the main group in the conventional segment, increased by 37.8% due to a peak in the supply of steel.