February 2 - The Antwerp port community has announced its intention to make additional efforts to attract new, conventional trade to the port.

A series of five covenants was signed today in Antwerp Town Hall by the Port Authority, Alfaport Antwerpen and five trade associations.

The objectives form part of the port's Total Plan for a more competitive port, with one of the working parties dealing with branding and promotion.

Project cargoes are one of five types of cargo covered by the five covenants with the additional cargoes being steel, fruit, forest products and ro-ro. 

The statement said that as a port, Antwerp aims to maintain and expand its leadership position in breakbulk and its general position as the second-largest port in Europe overall. Siging the covenants forms part of this ambition.

Under the terms of the covenants, special efforts will be made in the sectors concerned. The five covenants contain working agreements between Antwerp Port Authority and Alfaport Antwerp, allowing for a joint approach supported by the signatories, in addition to the individual efforts towards promoting the port of Antwerp. The signatories are Antwerp Port Authority, Alfaport Antwerpen, the General Association of Antwerp Stevedoring & Port Companies (ABAS), the Antwerp Shipping Association (ASV), the Royal Belgian Association of Ship Operators, and the Association for Forwarding, Logistics and Freight Interests in Antwerp (VEA).

One of the provisions is for Antwerp to have a stronger presence at events and conferences. In line with the terms of the covenants, the Port Authority will organise trade days in the course of this year, for among others steel, forest products and project cargoes. It will also take part in leading international events such as the Steel Logistics Conference, the Breakbulk Conferences in Singapore, Antwerp and Houston, Fruit Logistica, Transport & Logistics Munich, Intermodal South (Sao Paulo) and Intermodal Russia (Moscow). The private companies in the Antwerp port area will also participate more often in conferences and trade fairs in their sectors.

The signing of the covenants forms part of the closer collaboration between the private and public sectors of the port as part of the Total Plan, for which 10+1 work groups have been set up.

The work groups will effectively start their activities as of this week. Progress will be monitored by a steering group of work group leaders and initiative-takers. The work groups will report back to the States General of the Antwerp port community before the summer. From the first reactions of various parties involved, there seems to be great openness and a strong will to collaborate.