2018 looks set to be a record year for the Port of Antwerp for the sixth consecutive year, with overall growth of 5.7% and there has been a wave of investments
With expected growth of 5.1% compared with 2017, the earlier forecasts of a 6th successive record year have been confirmed. The expected total freight volume in 2018 comes to 235 Mt, including 130 Mt of containerised freight (up 5.8%), or 11M TEU (up 5.5%) in unit terms. Liquid and solid bulk rose by 4.5% (to 76.5 Mt) and 5% (to 12.8 Mt) respectively, while breakbulk traffic increased by 1.8% to 15.6 Mt.
In 2018 leading international players in the chemical industry including among others Borealis, INEOS, Nippon, Sea-Mol and Oiltanking/AGT announced investments aggregating €2B.
Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren said: "With these excellent growth figures and the recent surge of investment, in 2018 the port has once more confirmed its role as the main engine of the Belgian economy. Now we will continue on the same course as before, towards a sustainable port of the future.
"But to keep growing in a sustainable way, we together with the whole port community must strain every effort to meet the challenges facing us today. The port of the future must have enough capacity and be accessible, sustainable, smart and secure to remain attractive for investors."
He stressed that there is an urgent need for additional container handling capacity. “We are already far beyond the optimum capacity limits in the terminals below the locks, with serious consequences for efficiency. We therefore continue to insist that additional container capacity below the locks is urgently needed.
The most recent draft version of the Preference Decree for creation of additional container capacity represents the last straight towards a breakthrough in this complex project. We are therefore very pleased with the efforts by the Flemish administration, and are glad to work constructively on further development of Alternative 9, which is now being considered.
"This alternative now has to be further tweaked in nautical and operational terms in order to make it sufficiently feasible and attractive for the economic operators while limiting the environmental impact to the absolute minimum."
With roadworks about to start on the Oosterweel interchange, structural solutions to mobility problems in and around Antwerp are more urgent than ever. The port is aiming to cut the share of road distribution from 55% today to 43% by 2030, double the proportion of rail transport by that date to 15% and it has also introduced a Container Barge Action Plan. From November, barge calls requiring less than 30 moves were banned from the terminals.