Port of Antwerp to position itself more strongly in the UK
The port of Antwerp says it has decided to appoint a full-time representative in the UK, in order to keep in closer touch with the economic situation there now that Brexit is looming closer. Attracting additional sources of trade and cargo will also form part of the new port representative’s job.
With an annual freight volume of nearly 14 million tonnes (2017), commercial relations between the port and the UK are very significant. “The UK is actually our third-largest trading partner,” explained Luc Arnouts, the Port Authority’s International Networks manager. “On the other hand the volume shrank by nearly 8% last year, probably due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”
Brexit will actually become a reality just over one year from now, although negotiations concerning the exact terms of trade are still in progress. “We plead for a clear, well-defined Brexit, both during the current transition period and in the post-Brexit age, in order to prevent a disintegration of the internal market,” declared Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren on the occasion of the visit to the port of Antwerp by Robin Walker, British Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the EU. “Once Brexit becomes a reality, we want to have an efficient framework that permits a smooth flow of trade. That means as few tariff barriers and administrative obstacles as possible.”
Under-Secretary of State Robin Walker: “Our trading and political ties with Belgium are deep and longstanding, and we know they will continue and strengthen as we leave the EU. As we look forward to our future relationship, an Implementation Period will be essential to provide certainty to people and businesses in the UK and in Belgium. We are well underway in our discussions with the EU on the terms of an Implementation Period and hope to secure an agreement swiftly. We are confident that we will be able to secure a future partnership that allows people from the UK and Belgium to continue enjoying open access to one another’s markets.”
Antwerp Port Authority is keen to maintain and indeed further strengthen the port’s position in the UK in the near future. Antwerp is ideally located for the UK, firstly as an investment location close to the European centres of decision-making and secondly as a gateway to Europe from where the continent can be served quickly and efficiently. “The same also applies to Zeebrugge. We therefore seek to further expand our network of shortsea container services with the UK and Ireland,” declared Arnouts.