Geopolitical landscape weighs heavy on Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ breakbulk throughput
Quarterly throughput figures at the port of Antwerp-Bruges have come under pressure from the complex geopolitical and macroeconomic context, slipping when compared to the corresponding period in 2022. The merged port noted that general cargo volumes hit 13,227,423 tonnes in the first quarter of the year, 19.8 per cent down on Q1 2022 figures.
First quarter 2022 figures were helped by a robust post-COVID-19 recovery resulting in high throughput figures. The slowing economy is accompanied by a decline in steel demand. This caused a 21.9 per cent drop in throughput of steel, both in incoming and outgoing flows.
With steel products taking 71.1 per cent in the overall mix of breakbulk throughput at the port. Project cargo grabbed 1.7 per cent of the overall throughput cake.
Roll-on/roll-off traffic is maintaining the status quo, but within the new-car segment there is a resurgence, the port said in its report. The first quarter of 2023, saw 904,901 new cars shipped in and out, up 7.2 per cent from 2022. Throughput of all transport equipment has grown by 4.3 per cent, while unaccompanied cargo (excluding containers) is showing a decrease (-2.4 per cent.) The share of these volumes related to the United Kingdom fell by 5.6 per cent in the first quarter, while traffic to and from Ireland increased by 14.2 per cent.
Overall throughput edges down
The total throughput of Port of Antwerp-Bruges amounted to 68.7 million metric tonnes in the first quarter of 2023, a drop of 4.5 per cent compared with the same period last year. This decline is due to the still complex geopolitical and macroeconomic context, which has led to a decline in the container segment and significant shifts in cargo flows.
Operational challenges at container terminals and congestion have slowly declined since the third quarter of 2022. Economic uncertainty and inflation led to a global slowdown in demand for container shipping and the cancellation of sailings, particularly those from the Far East.
Along with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which caused Russia-related traffic in the first three months of 2023 to be two-thirds lower than in the same period last year, this has resulted in a 6.6 per cent drop in container throughput in tonnes and 5.7 per cent in TEUs, compared to the first quarter of 2022.