Merger of Antwerp and Zeebrugge creates 'Europe's largest export port'

The new unified port of Antwerp-Bruges aims to reconcile economy, people and climate.

The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge have been officially combined and will now operate under the name Port of Antwerp-Bruges, having signed a shareholders' agreement on April 22 at an extraordinary general meeting.

The newly unified port provides no less than 74.000 direct and 90.000 indirect jobs and with an added value of almost 21.000 billion euros or 4,5 percent of Belgian GDP, "by far the largest economic engine of our country », said the port.

Europe's largest export port, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges will also be the highest throughput port for vehicles, the largest integrated chemical group and one of Europe's leading container ports.

"The port of Antwerp-Bruges has the express ambition of becoming the first world port to reconcile the economy, people and climate," the port highlighted in a statement.

“The unified port plans to further strengthen its position in the international logistics chain, take a leading role in the energy and digital transition, and at the same time create sustainable added value for society as a whole. Not only for the Antwerp and Zeebrugge area, but also for all potential stakeholders in the national and international region in general.”

The merger was described as a "golden opportunity" to put the port sites of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, and by extension Flanders, in an even stronger position on the world map.

“The Port of Antwerp-Bruges will capitalize on the strengths of both port locations and focus its strategy on containers, breakbulk, RoRo traffic and chemicals,” the statement continues. “More than ever, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges will play a crucial role in the main flows of goods and will reinforce its position as one of the main gateways to Europe.

"The unified port has also become Europe's largest export port, handling 147 million tonnes per year, making it a global heavyweight."

As the leading container port by tonnage with 159 million tons per year, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges aims to meet the need for container capacity due to global growth and recent developments in the international logistics chain.

In parallel with the implementation of the Extra Container Capacity Antwerp (ECA) project, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is working on a '22-30 Container Plan' to safeguard its competitive position.

Furthermore, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges continues to invest in strategic infrastructure, including the Europe Terminal in Antwerp, as well as the New Lock and the Marine Logistics Zone in Zeebrugge.

“By focusing on reinforcing the interconnectivity between the Antwerp and Bruges sites and achieving economies of scale in the area of ​​digitization, the unified port will contribute to the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of the logistics chain,” the combined port continued. "In short, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges has all the tools at its disposal to play an increasingly important role on the global logistics stage."

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges added that it intended to consolidate its position as a green energy hub and help shape the energy transition towards a sustainable future.

Finally, the port said that it would offer several unparalleled strengths in innovation and digitization that will make the logistics chain not only more efficient, but also more secure and reliable.

“The unified port is not only the economic engine of Flanders, but together the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge will also form the largest export port, the largest vehicle traffic port and the leading chemical hub in Europe,” said Annick De Ridder, Deputy Mayor of the City of Antwerp and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

"At the same time, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges has high ambitions to become the energy gateway to Europe as a 'green port,'" he noted. "In short, Flemish economic history is being written here today."

Dirk De fauw, mayor of the city of Bruges and vice-president of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, added: “As mayor of the city of Bruges and vice-president of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, I am convinced that this merger will lead to sustainable growth of economic activity and employment in both places, and boost Flanders' international reputation around the world. Together we are strong."

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