During the past year port traffic grew by 1.3%, though figures are lower than in recent years (5.2% in 2017, 4.4% in 2017). The amount of goods transferred to other forms of shipment in the port, e.g. onto barges, rose to 238 million tons up from 235.2 million last year.
Container traffic grew 6.2% and according to alderman for the port Annick De Ridder (Flemish nationalist) forms the motor of Antwerp’s growth.
“The figures are particularly good, given the difficult geopolitical situation, President Trump’s import tariffs on European steel, Brexit and EU anti-dumping legislation.”
The US import tariffs have dented the figures: breakbulk that includes steel fell by 13% this year.
The port of Antwerp is eyeing further growth and this should be sustainable growth. The site of the former Opel car assembly plant, the Churchill site on the Churchill Dock, is being set aside for businesses that wish to play a pioneering role in the transition to a low carbon port.
The site is the last large area of land still available in the port. Port authorities had hoped to attract one big investor, but came to the conclusion that demand from smaller players is far stronger.
Talks are underway with five businesses that should result in hundreds of new jobs in the sustainable economy. Some of the site is still being set aside in the event a big investor materialises.