The port of Antwerp’s container traffic grew a modest, but significant, 0.7 percent in the first three months of 2012, reaching a record high for the first quarter in sharp contrast to a 4 percent decline at arch rival Rotterdam.
The Belgian port handled 2,188,150 20-foot-equivalent units in the first quarter, 15,862 TEUs more than in the same period in 2011.
“The Antwerp container handlers have never before had such a good first quarter,” according to the Port Authority. The second quarter “also looks very promising,” with the arrival of two new Far East services, it said.
Rotterdam handled 2.78 million TEUs in the first quarter, retaining its top ranking among European container ports, while Antwerp likely has consolidated its third place behind Hamburg, which has yet to publish traffic figures.
Antwerp’s total first quarter throughput dipped 2.2 percent to 46.3 million metric tons, outpaced by Rotterdam’s 3 percent growth to 110 million tons.
Steel products, down 20.3 percent at 1.55 million tons, and liquid bulk, 13.5 percent lower at 10.3 million tons, were the biggest losers in the quarter.
Coal shipments soared 34.5 percent to 1.73 million tons and grain traffic grew 18.7 percent to 324,000 tons.
Conventional/break bulk cargo tumbled 13.6 percent to 2.53 million tons, mainly due to sharply lower steel shipments. Roll-on roll-off traffic was 12.3 percent higher at 1.3 million tons.
The number of ship calls declined 3 percent to 3,629.
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