Like most ports around the world, the Port of Antwerp, Europe’s second-largest port, reported that total freight volumes fell in April due to the coronavirus’ impact on global trade. The decline in April erased a four percent gain the port had experienced in the first quarter resulting in a nearly flat year-over-year comparison with the first four months of 2019.
Commenting on its outlook, the port of Antwerp said that the consequences of canceled sailings would continue to affect the port’s volumes for the remainder of the second quarter. However, in the announcement of April results, the port also highlighted that it had experienced a strong increase in empty boxes bound for China, which it said is a sign of recovery in production.
Antwerp’s container volume was down in April reducing the port’s 9.5 percent gain for container volume in the first quarter to a total increase of just over 6 percent for the four months in 2020.
Other segments of the cargo business are experiencing more significant declines. For example in breakbulk, with steel as the most important product, Antwerp experienced a sharp drop of nearly 16 percent in April and nearly 30 percent overall in 2020, which is attributed to the disruptions to trade from the coronavirus.
Similarly, due to the lack of production in the automotive industry, there were no imports of new cars from Asia, and exports of European cars were also at a standstill. The port’s total ro/ro volume was down by more than 16 percent in the January-April period, which the port attributed to a standstill in the second-hand car market.
In the dry bulk category, Antwerp reported little demand for coal due to the mild winter and the shutdown of the steel industry, while volumes in the liquid bulk sector were down by over two percent mainly due to the lower demand for oil derivatives.
As Europe’s second-largest port, the Port of Antwerp serves more than 300 lines to over 800 destinations. The Port of Antwerp annually handles around 238 million tons of international maritime freight and is home to Europe’s largest integrated chemical cluster.
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