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Flanders’ ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge merge

Land ahead! After years of negotiating and an earlier announcement, the cities of Bruges and Antwerp have reached a final agreement on the merger between the Port of Antwerp and the Port of Zeebrugge, two of Flanders’ four seaports. Once the merger is completed, the ports will roam the seas together as the Port of Antwerp-Bruges. The unification process will take about a year.

Running a tight, future-oriented ship

The merger allows the two ports to strengthen their global supply chain position and continue their course towards sustainable growth. What’s more, the unified port will be more resilient to face the challenges of the future and will take a lead in the transition towards a low-carbon economy. The ambition for Port of Antwerp-Bruges is to become the world’s first port to harmonize economy, people and climate priorities.

The two ports have defined a joined plan around three strategic priorities in this regard: sustainable growth, resilience and energy & digital transition leadership.

Swimming in superlatives

While the Port of Antwerp was already known as Europe’s 2nd-largest port, the merger with the Port of Zeebrugge will give rise to a unified port with an even greater list of facts and figures. Highlighting just a few examples, once the unification process is complete, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges will be:

  • Europe’s most important container port (with an annual container shipping volume of 157 million tons);
  • one of Europe’s largest breakbulk ports;
  • the largest port for the throughput of vehicles in Europe;
  • the biggest port for cruise ships in the Benelux;
  • one of the world’s leading ports (with a total throughput of 278 million tons per year).

What’s more, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges will transit over 15% of Europe’s liquid natural gas, while remaining home to Europe’s largest and the world’s 2nd-largest petrochemical cluster.

By joining forces, we are on the way to becoming Europe’s global port, reinforcing our position as the main container port in terms of tonnage, a solid ro-ro port and one of Europe’s largest breakbulk ports.

Annick De Ridder
port alderman and chair of the board of directors of the Antwerp Port Authority

Better together

Adding even more wind in their sails, the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge will leverage each other’s strengths for a result where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This is because the ports are largely complementary. While Antwerp specializes in the handling and storage of containers, breakbulk and chemical products, for instance, Zeebrugge is a major port for ro-ro traffic, container handling and liquid natural gas transshipment.

We look forward to joining forces with the Port of Antwerp and strengthening our joint position as the main gateway to Europe. Zeebrugge is the world’s largest automotive hub, a leading ro-ro port and a state-of-the-art natural gas hub. By combining our strengths with Antwerp’s, we can do more and better.

Dirk De fauw
mayor of Bruges and chair of Zeebrugge Port Authority

To maximize the added value of unification, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges will develop and make optimal use of the interconnectivity between Antwerp and Zeebrugge. In this respect, the focus will be on bundling the transportation of goods by rail between the two ports, optimizing estuary traffic (using inland vessels on the North Sea) and utilizing pipeline connections

More info

Port of AntwerpPort of Zeebrugge
Reported by
newspaper De Standaard and website Port of Antwerp
15 February 2021

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