Antwerp’s container traffic declined 2.8 percent in the first quarter from a year ago even as total throughput was up 1.4 percent on sharply higher liquid bulk shipments.
Europe’s third-largest box hub handled 2.126 million 20-foot-equivalent units in the opening three months of the year, down from 2.188 million TEUs in the same period in 2012.
The slide in box shipments, reflecting lower imports into a recession-mired Europe, contrasts with a 4 percent increase in first quarter traffic at Rotterdam, Europe’s top container port.
The rise in total traffic to just under 47 million metric tons was driven by a 13.4 percent jump in liquid and dry bulk volume to 17.8 million metric tons. Liquid bulk traffic soared 37.4 percent to a record 14.2 million metric tons because of sharply higher shipments of liquid derivatives.
Conventional breakbulk traffic grew 4.4 percent to 2.65 million metric tons, a reversal of recent declines, driven mainly by a 6.4 percent increase in steel products to 1.65 million metric tons. Paper and cellulose shipments were up 23.8 percent at 260,393 metric tons.
Roll-on, roll-off traffic dipped 0.5 percent to 1.2 million metric tons, but auto shipments were 5.5 percent higher at 305,707 units.