Antwerp managed to limit the decline in its container traffic to just 0.4 percent in 2012 despite sharply lower imports into a slowing European economy, while total tonnage fell 1.8 percent from a year ago.
Container traffic totalled 8.6 million 20-foot-equivalent units this year, according to provisional figures, and total volume was 183.8 million metric tons, maintaining the Belgian port’s position as Europe second-largest maritime hub.
“All things considered, these figures are a mild reflection of the state of the economy and of the shipping industry,” a port spokesman said. Volume was also affected by the temporary closure of a refinery, which depressed liquid bulk traffic.
The number of calls by container ships with capacity of more than 10,000 TEUs rose to an expected 165 this year from 141 in 2011.
Conventional breakbulk cargoes tumbled 14.9 percent to 10.8 million tons, reflecting lower steel shipments because of a recession in the industry.
But Antwerp boosted its position as Europe’s premier steel port, winning back customers from rivals, including Rautaruukki from Rotterdam and Stemcor from Flushing in the Netherlands, and attracting new clients.
Bulk freight traffic dipped 1.3 per cent to 64.2 million tons, including 45.2 million tons of liquid bulk, down 1.7 percent from 2011.
Roll-on, roll-off shipments surged 13.6 percent to 4.8 million tons, and the number of cars handled jumped 14.1 percent to 1.233 million.