Total freight volume was up 1.1% during first three quarters of this year
Container volume in TEU was up by 6.4% and by 5.7% in tonnage. The volume of dry bulk such as scrap metal, minerals and coal increased by 9.5%. However, the slowdown in the world economy reduced the growth rate of more volatile trade flows such as conventional breakbulk, liquid bulk and vehicles.
Recent adjustments to the feeder network of MSC, the port’s biggest customer, were favourable for Antwerp. In addition, in Q3 two new services to Latin America provided additional imports of reefer loads from Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica.
Breakbulk freight flows fell by 9%, with steel, the main category, down by 12.9%. Both imports and exports of steel are increasingly feeling the consequences of geopolitical measures that restrict the flow of trade, notes the port. Only exports to Mexico and Turkey experienced growth, while imports from all producing countries suffered a decline.
The total ro-ro volume contracted by 2.1%, while the number of new cars handled was down by 10%, due to, among other things, the declining volume of new car exports in the third quarter. By contrast the decline was partly offset by an increased volume of second-hand cars, with growth of 12%.
Dry bulk volume was up by 9.5% over the space of nine months. Five times as much coal was shipped as in the same period last year. The strong increase in the volume of coal was partly due to a temporary shift in transport routes as a result of low water levels in the Rhine.
This was accentuated later in the year by traders stocking up, given the prospect of higher coal prices in the coming months. Other dry bulk categories, such as fertilisers which were the highest performer in 2018, are coming under heavy pressure and are trending downwards.