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The coronavirus impacted on freight throughput at the Port of Antwerp in April, but volumes were still up 0.4% overall during the first four months of 2020 compared with the same period last year.

Container TEU volumes at the port dropped back in April but they were up by 6.1% between January and April. The port noted that the consequences of cancelled sailings ‘will make themselves felt in the remained of the second quarter,’ however it also highlighted ‘a strong increase’ in empty boxes bound for China, which is an indication of some production recovery in this market.

The number of calls by seagoing ships was also down but a number of container ships also carried more volume on average, said the port. 

The breakbulk sector has been severely impacted by the current pandemic through, for example, a shutdown in global steel production. This situation resulted in a 15.7% fall in breakbulk volumes at Antwerp last month and 29.1% for 2020 as a whole.

A sharp reduction in car imports and exports also impacted Ro-Ro volumes, which were down 16.2% year on year.

The number of calls by seagoing ships was also down but a number of container ships also carried more volume on average.

In terms of the dry bulk sector, the port reported little demand for coal due to the mild winter and the shutdown of the steel industry, and so also very little outgoing traffic to the hinterland. It also pointed to the fact that ‘sufficient renewable energy (solar and wind) was available in Germany’ which also contributed to the steep drop in outgoing coal consignments.

In the liquid bulk sector volumes were down by 2.5% in 2020, mainly due to the lower demand for oil derivatives.

The volume of chemical products showed a slight growth of 0.6% during the first four months of this year compared with the same period in 2019.

The port noted that: ‘Despite a weaker month in April the port has been able to maintain its level of activity in terms of freight volume.

‘The impact of lacklustre demand due to the corona crisis will make itself felt more strongly in the coming months.’

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