Total throughput fell 5.5 per cent in 2023 compared with the previous year as challenges mounted up

Port of Antwerp-Bruges container ship turbines Adobe Stock

Port of Antwerp-Bruges container ship turbines Adobe Stock

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges has revealed its results for 2023, highlighting how geopolitical tensions and slowing global economic growth have driven down industrial production and trade flow and, ultimately, hurt throughput.

The Belgian port said that total throughput came in at 271m tonnes of cargo through the year, down 5.5 per cent on 2022.

Despite this, the port pointed out that market share of the container segment had increased compared to the other ports in the Hamburg–Le Havre range.

Weak global economic growth and lower demand for commodities weighed on global demand for container transport in 2023, it said.

This corresponded to a decrease in container throughput of 6.3 per cent in tonnes last year, down to 137.2m tonnes, and 7.2 per cent in TEUs to 12.5m TEUs.

By contrast, Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ market share in the Hamburg–Le Havre range rose 0.6 percentage points to 30.2 per cent in 2023.

“We had seen it coming for some time, that 2023 would not be a great year,” said Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp-Bruges. ”After all, as a port, we are at the centre of economic and geopolitical challenges.

”But, with a powerful strategy, the merger and an efficiency exercise, we have managed to organise ourselves in good time and are even gaining market share in the Hamburg-Le Havre range.

”Especially in more turbulent waters, it is essential that we continue to sail in the right direction, with our strategic plan as our compass,” he noted. ”That is what we will continue to do so in 2024.

”To remain attractive to investors and to continue our strategic pioneering role – legal certainty is crucial in this regard,” he added. ”We therefore expect the government to promptly clarify a workable licensing framework and correct conditions to continue to operate as a business and attract investment as a top platform.”