December 28 - Belgium's Port of Antwerp has released its provisional performance figures for 2012. Conventional breakbulk at the port dropped by 14.9 percent year-on-year to 10,804,408 tonnes, due to what it says is a decline in the amount of steel handle

However, the port adds that despite the breakbulk decline, it has managed to solidify its position as Europe's largest steel port, with a number of customers returning from competing ports including Rautaruukki from Rotterdam and Stemcor from Flushing. New customers including Brown McFarlane, Mechel and Erdemir were attracted to the Flemish port, it says.

Container freight remained almost static with 8,629,992 teu handled, down fractionally year-on-year by 0.4 percent. Expressed in tonnes the fall amounted to 1.1 percent, to 103,965,023 tonnes. Ro-ro volumes rose by 13.6 percent to 4,819,539 tonnes. The number of cars handled in 2012 came to 1,233,159 - an increase of 14.1 percent.

Overall the Port of Antwerp handled 138.8 million tonnes of freight during 2012, representing a year-on-year decline of 1.8 percent over the 2011 figure. The port noted that the tonnage fall is a reflection of the mild state of the economy and the shipping industry.