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Containers and liquid bulk drive Antwerp towards volume record

The Port of Antwerp handled a freight volume of 148.3m tonnes during the first nine months of 2014, a 3.7% increase on the same period of last year.

Antwerp is on course to beat 2013's record freight volume of 190.8m tonnes, boosted by strong growth in containers and liquid bulk.

The port's container volumes were up 6% to 81.1m tonnes, a 5% rise in teu terms to 6.7m teu. In the conevntional sector fruit imports fell sharply by 15.4% to 795,044 tonnes as more fruit is carried by container, and the port said this did not mean they were losing trade in this sector.

Crude oil was the only product in liquid bulk that recorded a drop in volumes, falling 0.6% to 3.4m tonnes. Oil derivatives and chemicals both managed growth of 4.9% and 1.9% respectively, leaving the overall rise in volume for liquid bulk at 3.8% to 46.1m tonnes.

Dry bulk volumes were down by 6.5% at 10.2m tonnes hit mainly by coal volumes that fell to 1.1m tonnes in the first nine months of 2014, a 39.6% drop of compared to the first three quarters of last year.

The port's figures also reflected the changes in the world's fleet and despite a 2.3% drop in the number of ships calling at Antwerp to 10,526, the total gross tonnage rose by 1.9% to 251.6m gt.

"At the beginning of this month the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in Washington gave the go ahead for 2M, the alliance between Maersk and MSC that is due to start operation at the beginning of next year and that has opted resolutely for Antwerp. The Port maintains three calls on the route from the Far East, but in one of the calls Antwerp is the only port in the Benelux with both an import and an export call. On the transatlantic route Antwerp goes from two to three calls," the company stated in its third quarter review.

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