The port of Antwerp has reported that a total of 120 million tonnes of cargo was transhipped through the port during the first six months of 2021, representing a year-on-year increase of 5 percent. The port said that transhipments with the UK and Ireland are showing positive signs in spite of Brexit.

The port recorded that container cargo volumes are up by 4.3 percent during the first half of the year compared to 2020, and by 3.9 percent compared to 2019.

Conventional breakbulk throughput has increased by 41.2 percent compared to 2020. Iron and steel, the main goods in this segment, has increased by 37.8 percent. Ro-ro traffic also increased by 22 percent compared to the first half of 2020.

The port went on to say that, given that the UK is its third largest maritime trading partner, the conclusion of the transition period following its departure from the EU increased administrative complexities, which resulted in congestion, longer transit times, and higher costs.

As such, the flow of goods between the EU and the UK is decreasing, the port said. However, the port of Antwerp recorded a total throughput increase of 11.1 percent and 12.1 percent with the UK and Ireland, respectively, when compared with the same period in 2020.

In preparation for Brexit, the port of Antwerp expanded its shortsea connections with the UK and Ireland. Irish importers and exporters are increasingly abandoning the land bridge over the UK and are instead opting for a direct maritime connection. This way, cargo remains within the EU and British Customs formalities and duties are bypassed.

Jacques Vandermeiren, ceo of the port of Antwerp, said: “We knew that Brexit would have major consequences for the transport of goods between Europe and the UK. By preparing ourselves well and focusing on shortsea connections and lo-lo cargo, we can convert the challenges into opportunities.

“The positive half-year figures for transhipment with the UK and Ireland confirm this. After Brexit, Antwerp wants more than ever to be the gateway between Europe and the UK and Ireland.”