The port of Antwerp remains very resilient in these difficult times

22/01/2021

A new container traffic record has enabled the port of Antwerp to limit the decline in its activity in 2020, a year in which the coronavirus crisis caused a drop in world trade.

The goods transiting through the port fell into four categories: containers, cargo, dry bulk and liquid bulk. Total freight traffic fell by just 3.1% compared to 2019, although the latter was a record year. By weight, this represents 231 million tonnes transhipped last year, compared to 238 million in 2019. The situation can be summed up in a few words: fruit on the rise, cars and oil in sharp decline.

What saved the port's activity was the transhipment of containers, which enabled it to withstand the crisis better than the majority of ports in the Hamburg - Le Havre range. In 2020, it exceeded twelve million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for the first time. This is a measure used to express a transport capacity, which is based on the volume occupied by a six-metre long container.

Another advantage of Antwerp is the diversity of its clientele, which means that it is not dependent on a single country or continent. While trade with the United States, its largest client, has dropped, the same does not apply to China, whose economy has recovered. Another key fact to be highlighted is fruit imports, which were not affected by the crisis; on the contrary, during the first lockdown, food products recorded record sales.