Despite ongoing attacks in Red Sea, port of Antwerp faces little disruption
While the Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea are resulting in global trade delays, the port of Antwerp has yet to experience notable disruption, De Tijd reports.
The Red Sea is crucial to world trade as a logistical link between the East and West, with almost 15 per cent of the world's overseas trade passing through it. Of the cargo that comes through the Red Sea to Antwerp, 11.9 per cent comes from the Middle East, 3.2 per cent from India and 12.8 per cent from China, says the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have repeatedly attacked ships in the Red Sea as a form of protest. The violence is driving up costs for shipping companies and many have opted for an alternative route past the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
"We as a port are less vulnerable and will not lose any traffic," said port CEO Jacques Vandermeiren. "For delayed routes, we sometimes skip intermediate stops in certain ports, but Antwerp and Zeebrugge will not be skipped any time soon. However, cargo will end up here that is not destined for here, possibly leading to congestion."
"Everyone hopes it will blow over. They are counting on the Americans to solve it"
One of Antwerp's most prominent container terminals, PSA, does not expect a loss of volume with imports and says the only issues it faces with the Red Sea crisis will be delayed ships that will sail past the Cape of Good Hope. This manoeuvre adds an average of 10 days to the journey time, driving up operating costs with container rates nearly doubling, according to the World Container Index by research firm Drewry.
Stefan Verberckmoes, an analyst at data supplier AXSMarine, does not predict lower prices. "A lot depends on the conflict in the Middle East, but there is something else at play: 10 February is Chinese New Year, and then the Chinese economy shuts down for two weeks," he said. "Until then, many companies are trying to get extra goods exported, which leads to even more pressure."
According to Vandermeiren, there are no storage problems yet. "Everyone hopes it will blow over. They are counting on the Americans to solve it. But this could also be the start of greater geopolitical tensions," he said.
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