The City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges have reached an agreement to merge their respective ports — Port of Antwerp and the Port of Zeebrugge — with the process expected to take a year to finalise.
Once completed, the ports will operate under the name ‘Port of Antwerp-Bruges’.
The merger is expected to see the two ports strengthening their position within the global supply chain and continue sustainable growth. Furthermore, the unified port will be more resilient to the challenges of the future and will take a lead in the transition towards a low-carbon economy.
In a statement, Port of Antwerp said the ambition is for Port of Antwerp-Bruges to become the world’s first port to reconcile economy, people and climate.
The Port of Antwerp and the port of Zeebrugge handled a total of 13.8 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) in 2020 — the Antwerp gateway recording 12 million TEUs, while Zeebrugge with 1.8 million TEUs.
The merged port will become one of the largest breakbulk ports and the largest port for the throughput of vehicles in Europe. It will also become the
largest port for the transhipment of vehicles in Europe. Furthermore, the port will account for more than 15% of Europe’s LNG transited and it will remain Europe’s most important chemical hub. It will also be the largest port for cruise ships in the Benelux.
With a total throughput of 278 million tonnes per year, the unified port will be able to consolidate its leading position in the world.
The two ports are said to be largely complementary. Antwerp specialises in the handling and storage of containers, breakbulk and chemical products, while Zeebrugge is a major port for Ro-Ro traffic, container handling and the transhipment of liquid natural gas (LNG).
The ports noted that working more closely together will make it possible to consolidate sustainable growth, not only of each port's individual market share but also of the joint market share of both ports together.
“Our ambition to bring the two ports together is about much more than simply tonnage and TEU, however. It will enable us to focus even more firmly on the transition towards a low-carbon economy and to continue our efforts regarding the digitalisation of the supply chain. The ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp are to a large extent complementary and working together will make us more resilient to external challenges,” said Annick De Ridder, port alderman and chair of the Antwerp Port Authority.
Jacques Vandermeiren, Antwerp Port Authority chief executive, has been nominated to be the CEO of merged Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
Meanwhile, Dirk De fauw, mayor of Bruges and chair of Zeebrugge Port Authority noted that the synergy will strengthen its position as the most important gateway to Europe.
“Zeebrugge is the world’s largest automotive hub, a leading Ro-Ro port and an experienced, state-of-the-art natural gas hub. By combining our own strengths with the qualities offered by Antwerp, we will be able to do more and do it better ... We will strengthen our joint economic and international position,” he said.