Port of Antwerp’s container traffic shrunk 0.7 percent in 2013 from a year ago, but is set to accelerate next year after the world’s three largest ocean carriers launch their P3 alliance.
The Belgian port said it expects to handle 8.57 million 20-foot-equivalent units by the end of the year, down from 8.64 million TEUs in 2012.
Total throughput rose 3.5 percent to a new record of 190.6 million metric tons, driven by a 31.9 percent surge in liquid bulk shipments to 59.7 million metric tons that offset a 26.8 percent collapse in dry bulk traffic to 14.0 million metric tons.
“The stagnating economy continues to weigh on the [container] figures … but this situation applies practically throughout the Hamburg-Le Havre [port] range,” said Eddy Bruyninckx, Antwerp Port Authority’s CEO, in a written statement.
The port said it will boost its market share of the Asia-Europe trade as it has gained an extra service to be operated by the P3 Network carriers — Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM — in the second half of 2014, and will also maintain its leading market position on other key routes. The recent decision of Mediterranean Shipping Co., Antwerp’s leading customer, to concentrate its operations on the port also promises “significant” growth, the port authority said.
Roll-on, roll-off traffic declined 5 percent year-over-year to 4.56 million metric tons, but car shipments were 5.1 percent higher at 1.3 million units. Conventional brea bulk cargo decreased 6.8 percent to 10.15 million metric tons, but investments in new handling facilities have created significant added value, the port authority claimed.
Antwerp outperformed its main rival, Port of Rotterdam, which saw container traffic fall 1.7 percent in 2013 to 11.66 million TEUs and total throughput stall at 441.5 million metric tons.