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Antwerp and New York well-matched trading partners

Date 30-May-2016
Subject Antwerp and New York well-matched trading partners

ANTWERP: The Port cities of Antwerp and New York share a particularly rich history that goes back to the 19th century.

More than two million emigrants from Europe made the crossing between the two on the Red Star Line, in search of a better life in the USA. The temporary exhibition “Via Antwerp. The Road to Ellis Island” being held from 17 May to 3 September brings to life the story of these hardy souls on their journey to the USA and their arrival at Ellis Island, the main immigrant processing centre in the harbour of New York.

Record-breaking Ports

Today the Ports of Antwerp and New York are also major industrial cities acting as the economic engine of their respective regions. New York together with New Jersey is the largest port on the East Coast of North America, while Antwerp is the second-largest port in Europe. Both of them handled record freight volumes in 2015. New York/New Jersey notched up 6.3 million TEU last year, a good 10% up on the previous record year of 2014. Antwerp too set a new record, with its volume up by 7.5% to 9.6 million TEU. No other port in North-West Europe performed better than Antwerp last year.

In 2015 a volume of 23.4 million tonnes of freight was shipped between Antwerp and the USA, more than half of it containerised. Other important freight categories include oil products and rolling stock.

Since North America – and New York in particular – is such an important trading partner for the Port of Antwerp, during the cultural mission to mark the opening of the exhibition in New York the Port Authority is organising a networking event for local policy-makers and customers of the Port. In the course of a boat trip on the Hudson river an exclusive reception will be offered by the Port Authority in collaboration with Flanders Investment & Trade and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Flanders Investment & Trade

American companies accounted for 53 of the 184 investment projects in Flanders in 2015, while Flemish companies for their part sent 18 billion euros worth of exports to the USA. Through its offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, Flanders Investment & Trade promotes trade and commerce between Flanders and the USA. By helping to organise this event it seeks to attract new investments to Antwerp in the areas of logistics, chemicals and the circular economy.

Everything is possible

With its position relatively far inland, the Port of Antwerp combines the advantages of an inland port with those of a seaport. Goods unloaded in Antwerp find their way in minimum time to the European hinterland located within a radius of 500 km around the Port. Furthermore, thanks to the presence of the largest chemical and petrochemical cluster in Europe and numerous logistics distribution hubs, Antwerp is also a cargo-generating port where the largest container carriers in the world (19,000 TEU or more) can load and unload. Small wonder, therefore, that MSC, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, recently decided to make Antwerp its North-West European hub.

As a consequence of this decision the company has moved its container activities in Antwerp (more than 5 million TEU annually) from the Delwaide dock on the Right bank of the Scheldt to the Deurganck dock on the Left bank, where it has more space to expand. “This was quite an exceptional operation for any Port,” says Luc Arnouts, the Port Authority’s Chief Commercial Officer. “But we are keen to give our customers the room they need to develop. No challenge is too difficult for us, no problem too complex. Last year we launched a campaign to illustrate this under the title of ‘Everything is possible at the Port of Antwerp,’ something we demonstrate every day.”

2016 and beyond

To cope with further growth within the port, the Port Authority has already started work on a new tidal dock, with the first phase due to enter operation in 2022. The dock is located in an area of 1,000 hectares that affords the necessary space for development of industrial and logistics activities. But in the shorter term other important infrastructure projects will be handed over so as to maintain the pace of growth throughout the port.

On 10 June 2016 the Kieldrecht lock is due to be opened by His Majesty King Philipp of Belgium. This lock, the largest in the world, will help to secure access to the dock complex on the Left bank.

Then on 22 September 2016 the Port Authority will inaugurate its new headquarters designed by the award-winning British-Iranian architect Zaha Hadid (now sadly deceased).

The new Port House will be a distinctive feature of the Antwerp skyline, acting as a landmark for the port as a whole.

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