Antwerp, a record-breaking port and a litmus check of worldwide geopolitical tensions | EUROtoday

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ANTWERP – Continuing worldwide political uncertainty – marked by struggle within the Middle East, battle in Ukraine and tensions between China and the United States over the way forward for Taiwan – has turn into a vital issue within the administration of ports worldwide. In an more and more worrying context, this week the Belgian port of Antwerp/Bruges, among the many most vital in Europe, warned concerning the leads to the present 12 months, after a fairly disappointing 2023.

The knowledge for the 12 months simply ended are a mirrored image of the tough political and financial state of affairs in Europe and on this planet. On the cargo aspect, the port recorded commerce of 271 million tonnes, down 5.5% in comparison with 2022. Trade in liquids, from oil to gasoline, suffered a 2.1% decline. Container transport fell by 6.3%, in tonne phrases. At the identical time, the port of Anversa/Bruges has gained market share in comparison with Rotterdam and Le Havre.

Also related to Northern Italy, the Belgian port heart is among the many most vital internationally. According to the newest statistics, the Flemish port on the Scheldt river it’s the main port in Europe for exports and the main port in Europe for automobile transport. It additionally hosts crucial chemical platform on the continent, and is, in absolute phrases, the thirteenth port on this planet by way of freight site visitors. It can be, reluctantly, one of many foremost gateways for cocaine into Europe.

Chinese financial system below particular surveillance

Our gaze turns to 2024. “Much will depend on the performance of the Chinese and German economies, on which we depend in many sectors,” explains the director of the Belgian firm, Jacques Vandermeiren. “I don’t expect major changes in the first part of the year, compared to 2023. We could be happy if we manage to record a slight growth in 2024”. In fact, the worry is that we are going to see a blockage of routes by the Red Sea or the Strait of Formosa.

“All shipowners are looking for alternatives to the itineraries usually used,” provides the Belgian supervisor. “It is inevitable that the continuing uncertainty will impression routes. We actually can’t rule out the likelihood that some ports might be skipped, so to talk.” Through the Red Sea, a ship’s journey between Shanghai and Antwerp is 35-40 days. It rises to 55 days if the vessel is pressured to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope, off the coast of South Africa.