Author: Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO, Port of Antwerp
4 Jan 2017
The qualities of Antwerp as a port are well-known: a major international hub, with direct and rapid access to the shared European market; a central location within Europe; outstanding facilities; a great can-do attitude; and – proof if any were needed – particularly good growth figures. The volume of freight handled in 2015 was more than 208 million tonnes, while the container business grew by no less than 7.5 percent. The figures for 2016 are very promising, with growth of 3.3 percent after the first nine months, compared with the same period the previous year, and further growth so far of four percent in the container segment. In fact, Antwerp is once again doing better than its competitors in the Hamburg-Le Havre region.
More than money
However, good annual figures by themselves are not enough: a proactive policy is key to making a world port such as ours future-proof. This demands a vision for the medium and long terms, in consultation and partnership with the port community. And indeed, the foundations for the Port Vision 2030-50 plan have now been laid.
We are the second largest port in Europe, as well as being a multifunctional platform combining industry, logistics and maritime transhipment. We intend to further expand and enrich this platform in the future by creating even more synergies, by growing further as an innovative hub and by cultivating an enduring, high-value support base.
Antwerp is probably the first major international port to publish a sustainability report for the entire port on a biannual basis
To achieve this, the Port of Antwerp offers both volume and space. Antwerp is certainly a flourishing port, with excellent accessibility for even the very largest ships, 6.1 million sq m of covered storage, and a particularly wide range of value-added services. But, more than that, it is also the largest integrated cluster in Europe, in which the majority of the world’s largest chemical and petrochemical players are active, either with their own production or by using Antwerp as a distribution centre, making excellent use of the port’s multifunctional platform. The existing synergies, both between production companies themselves and with logistics companies, also offer excellent possibilities for further development of R&D centres and innovative start-ups.
With the Churchill Development Zone and space for extra container capacity, the Port of Antwerp offers attractive investment opportunities in the heart of Europe. The Delwaide dock has just been allocated to container handling activities, and storage and value-added logistics for chemical and petrochemical products.
Top of the game
We owe our position in the worldwide supply chain to our centuries-old advantages, offering excellent connections with overseas destinations and the European hinterland, integrated end-to-end supply chain solutions, rapid and high-standard cargo handling, state-of-the-art facilities and smart solutions, and, above all, our highly-trained, flexible and inventive personnel.
As a smart hub, innovation is key. Whether smart solutions for transparent logistics flows, dynamic traffic management, waste-to-energy and power-to-methanol projects, or investments in the circular economy, all the necessary components are to be found in our port. The cross-fertilisation between the different companies and the collaboration between sectors can both be traced to a deliberate choice, namely the further development of a sustainable port.
Antwerp is probably the first major international port to publish a sustainability report for the entire port on a biannual basis. This requires participation by the port community as a whole. But sustainability also means care for the environment, both our immediate surroundings and globally. Our port is not only the gateway to Europe but has extensive connections with the rest of the world. Acting as the port authority and through Port of Antwerp International, we set up memoranda of understanding and collaboration agreements with other ports, and act as advisors. Alongside the APEC-Antwerp/Flanders Port Training Centre, we offer training for shipping and port professionals from all over the world.
As retiring CEO, I’m proud to leave behind a port bursting with confidence, yet well aware of its challenges. Our new CEO, Jacques Vandermeiren, will tackle these head-on, with the support of the entire port community.