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Antwerp Port: Europe’s star port in 2016

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Updated on 06 Mar 2024
3 min read
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Antwerp Port’s outstanding 2016 growth

For an inland location, Antwerp Port continues to record outstanding growth. The Belgian port recorded an above-average market growth in 2016. This feat proves ever more impressive considering that the miserable market figures for the ocean freight industry in recent years have, more often than not, threatened to stay.

Overall in 2016, the port of Antwerp handled a total freight volume of over 214 million tons. This represents a 2.7% increase from 2015 - the port’s many improvements. Container volume also grew 4.1% to over 10 million TEUs for the first time in the port’s history. And to top it all off, the number of seagoing ships calling at Antwerp Port in 2016 recorded a 0.4% increase from 2015 to 14,473 vessels.

First three-quarters of 2016

Antwerp Port ranks 13th in the top 20 ports in the world. Relative to the other top ports of Europe, Antwerp Port has performed considerably well. From January to September 2016, it increased its traffic by 4% to 7.6 million TEUs. That’s in spite of the slow Asia-North Europe trade lane growth. In comparison, Europe’s top port of Rotterdam saw traffic slip 0.4% over the same period of time to 9.3 million TEUs. The drop can be attributed to a decline mainly in the first five months. The increase in traffic over the last few months of 2016 should see volumes accelerate. As for the third-busiest port, Hamburg Port, it recorded 6.7 million TEUs.

The growth allows Antwerp Port to pull ahead of rival Hamburg Port and close the gap to Rotterdam.


Great connectivity and accessibility are some major advantages that Antwerp Port offers. Its inland location means sea vessels can transport goods as far as 80 kilometers inland. For shippers, this translates to less road transportation and a more economical, and not to mention, ecological option. The port also offers direct connections to over 500 destinations globally. Furthermore, it’s open 24⁄7 (including public holidays), boosting the port’s efficiency and productivity.

Antwerp Port is one of the biggest European rail ports. It handles more than 24 million tons of cargo via rail every year. Because of the port’s location, it’s a railway junction for the three main rail corridors in Europe, with connections to as far as Genoa and Lithuania. Additionally, it provides rail services to farther away destinations such as Kazakhstan and Korea. [Image credit: Antwerp Port Authority]

Bright future for Antwerp Port

6 When the port of Antwerp first started in the 12th century, it was a river port exporting wine from Germany to England. Today, it has developed into one of the world’s leading ports. Private investments are flowing in for the Port of Antwerp. According to port authorities, Belgium’s SEA-Invest group is planning the construction of a new €250 million tanker terminal at the Delwaide dock. A €50 million development for a separate terminal is also being mulled.

Other investments include:

  • €250 million by Houston-based international terminal operator Zenith Energy for projects on the right back of the Scheldt.
  • €100 million by SEA-Tank Terminal for the construction of extra tank capacity at the Hansa dock.

More recently, the port authority announced its new CEO: Jacques Vandermeiren. Previously, he was previously the CEO and President of the Executive Committee of network operator Elia. Prior to that, he spent 11 years with energy company Electrabel as Senior Advisor Strategy Direction. Vandermeiren took office on January 1, 2017. He replaced Eddy Bruyninckx, who retired after 25 years as head of the Antwerp Port Authority.

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