Container traffic in the port of Antwerp surged 15.9 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, consolidating its position as Europe's second largest box hub.
The Belgian port handled 2.013 million 20-foot equivalent units compared with 1.737 million TEUs in the first three months of 2009.
This was just short of the ten year high of 2.075 million TEUs handled in the opening quarter of 2008.
Antwerp is keeping pace with Rotterdam, Europe's top container port, which also boosted first quarter traffic by 16 percent to 2.6 million TEUs.
Total traffic at Antwerp rose 12.7 percent to 42 million metric tons, driven mainly by gains in liquid bulk and most dry bulk cargoes except coal and ore shipments.
Conventional and breakbulk cargo bucked the trend, declining to 2.62 million metric tons from just under three million metric tons a year ago. Steel shipments plunged 21.1 percent while fruit, wood cellulose and paper traffic stabilized.
Roll-on, roll-off traffic rose by just 1.8 percent to 807,157 metric tons, and the number of cars handled surged 22.7 percent to 197,472 units.
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