The handling of the port of Antwerp-Bruges was affected by macroeconomics and war

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First quarter throughput at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges dropped by 4.5% on-year, reflecting changing European trade flows.

The port said first-quarter throughput of 68.7 million tonnes was due to ongoing geopolitical and macroeconomic complexities, which in turn led to lower container throughput and shifts in cargo.

Container throughput decreased by 6.6% by weight and by 5.7% by TEU compared to the first quarter of 2022. Russia-related cargoes fell by two-thirds due to the war in Ukraine, and the reduction in global container congestion has led to lower demand and cancellations of sailing, the port said.

The liquid bulk segment was up 0.5% as LNG throughput rose 23.3%, with gains also seen in diesel, bunker oil and fuel gases. Chemical throughput increased for the quarter but was still 21.3% below last year’s level.

A 19.8% drop in conventional breakbulk throughput represents a return to pre-pandemic levels, the port said, more of a strong first quarter of 2022 than a weak first quarter of 2023.

Dry bulk throughput fell by 7.3%, led by the largest product category – fertilizers. Fertilizer production has declined in recent quarters as energy prices rose, and although production has increased since March 2023, fertilizer throughput still fell 26.4% in the first quarter. The European energy crisis provided some support, tripling coal throughput.

As the largest carport in the world, 904,901 new cars entered and exited, a 7.2% increase from the first quarter of 2022. This contributed to a 4.3% increase in equipment throughput, while unaccompanied cargo (excluding containers) fell by -2.4%.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said: “These results show that the world port is at the center of a persistently challenging geopolitical and macroeconomic environment. But despite these disappointing numbers, the outlook for 2023 remains positive. Falling energy prices, an improving Chinese economy and signs that the line market is also picking up give reason to look to the future with optimism. In addition, the complementarity of the two port platforms allows us to better respond to shifts in cargo flows.”

Annick De Ridder, Port Councilor of the City of Antwerp and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said: “Investments in strategic infrastructure such as the modernization of the Europa Terminal are essential to secure our position as a global port and to live up to our role as Flanders’ economic engine to become. Filling the many vacancies is a major challenge in this respect. To this end, we will soon launch an advertising campaign and a digital job platform together with our partners.”

Source: News Network

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