April 26 - The port of Antwerp handled 46.3 million tonnes of freight in the first three months of this year, down 2.2 percent on the same period in 2011. Breakbulk and project cargo saw 2.5 million tonnes handled, down 13.6 percent over the same period i

The main factor in the double-digit fall in this sector has been the fall in steel movements across the port, a reflection of the general economic troubles affecting much of the steel consuming sectors.

During the first quarter of 2012 a steel volume of 1.5 million tonnes was handled, which is 20.3 percent less than the 1.9 million tonnes for the corresponding period in 2011.

During the first quarter of 2012 there were 3,629 calls by seagoing ships in the port of Antwerp, down 3.0 percent on the same period last year while gross tonnage was almost static at 0.4 percent to 77.5 million tonnes.