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Once more record in shortsea traffic for Flemish ports in first half of 2016

Date: 19/10/2016

The tonnage of cargo (export and import taken together) handled in our 4 Flemish ports during the first six months of 2016 show a growth of almost 3 million tonnes (+4%) compared to the same period of last year.

The Shortsea Promotion Centre Flanders has announced the new record tonnage, pointing at some striking findings:

  • With a total of 76.1 million tonnes, shortsea traffic in the Flemish ports during the first six months of 2016 has reached its highest level since 1999 after the previous record year 2015.
  • The share of shortsea transport in the overall traffic in the Flemish ports amounts to 53.40%, which demonstrates once again its strong anchoring in the European transport chains.

In absolute figures the end of June 2016 was reached with a total of 76,109,991 tonnes of handled shortsea cargo (import and export) for the 4 ports taken together.

-          With 15,295,243 tonnes Zeebrugge showed the strongest growth in absolute figures. Compared to the first six months of 2015 the growth amounts to just under 1.3 million tonnes, or almost 9.2%.

-          With 9,081,073 tonnes the port of Ghent also witnessed an increase of almost 1 million tonnes compared to January-June 2015.

-          Antwerp had with 51,025,762 tonnes the largest handled SSS traffic, growing by 554,683 tonnes.

-          The port of Ostend again climbed to a shortsea traffic of 707,913 tonnes and gains almost 2% compared to the same period last year.

Antwerp, Ghent and Ostend clearly are import ports as far as shortsea is concerned. Zeebrugge is somewhat more inclined towards export.

Zeebrugge's export particularly grows towards the UK, Ireland, Egypt and Sweden, while the latter also scores well as far as imports are concerned. Antwerp is building on a number of driving forces on the import side, such as Norway, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Finland, Algeria and Sweden, and on Spain, Turkey, the UK and others on the export side. Ghent continues to work on a wide range for its imports, with Russia, Sweden, Norway, Latvia and the UK, and it witnesses growth in its exports towards Turkey and the UK. The port of Ostend saw its imports from the UK grow considerably. It also plays its part as a hub for the windmill projects.

The percentage shortsea in the overall cargo handled, is linked strongly to the geographical location of the port. Ostend scores almost 100%. Antwerp, situated further inland, has 47.11% of shortsea freight. Ghent and Zeebrugge reach 64.37 and 78.88% respectively. Shortsea shopping remains a very important sector for the four Flemish ports, as is illustrated by its 53.40% share in the overall maritime tonnage handled.

In the first six months of 2016 SSS has been doing better once again on the inland waterways (sea-river) with an increase of 23,348 tonnes in total compared to the same period of last year. The Brussel-Scheldt maritime canal registered 560,128 tonnes (+17,774 tonnes). The Albert Canal realised 118,212 tonnes, an increase of 5,604 tonnes. The seariver vessels have a distinct logistic advantage as they carry/fetch the cargo far inland, often to a loading or unloading facility in the vicinity of the end customer.

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