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A wonderful day for Flanders: the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge will become the world port of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges
“The merger of the two ports will make a significant contribution to the recovery of the Flemish economy.” Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon is delighted with the news that the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are joining forces. Antwerp’s mayor Bart De Wever and port alderwoman Annick De Ridder also applaud the merger. “We are proud of this historic agreement, which seals a long-awaited union.”
On Friday 12 February, it became known that the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge will merge under the name Port of Antwerp-Bruges. The cities of Antwerp and Bruges reached an agreement on this. As the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, the ports strengthen their position in the global logistics chain, and sustainable growth is continued. In addition, the unified port will be better equipped to meet the challenges of the future and lead the transition to a low-carbon economy. For example, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges aims to become the first world port to reconcile the economy, people and the climate.
Jan Jambon: “Flanders stands for trade”
Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon is enthusiastic. “The fact that our ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are really joining forces now is actually earth-shattering news, in a positive sense! For years, the Flemish Government has been advocating and working towards more intensive cooperation, because our ports are our most important economic drivers. They ensure prosperity and therefore also the well-being of the Flemish. Especially in these difficult, unpredictable and highly competitive times, it is necessary to combine all our forces. Flanders stands for trade, past and future. The whole world knows this, Bruges and Antwerp are very strong brands. The merger of the two ports will make a significant contribution to the recovery of the Flemish economy. This is perfectly in line with the objectives of our action plan ‘Flemish resilience’, which focuses on sustainability, innovation and digital transition. This is truly a wonderful day for Flanders.”
Building the world port of the future together
The joint position of the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge in the global logistics chain will receive an important boost. The unified port will for example become the most important container port (157 million tonnes/year), one of the largest breakbulk ports and the largest port for vehicle transhipment in Europe. In addition, the port will be responsible for more than 15% of the total gas throughput in Europe and, of course, it will also remain the most important chemical hub in Europe. Finally, it will be the largest cruise port in the Benelux. With a total throughput of 278 million tonnes per year, the unified port consolidates its worldwide top position.
Reconciling economy, people and the climate
However, the merger is more than a tale of tonnes and volumes. The ambition is to become the first world port to reconcile the economy, people and the climate. The unification project is based on creating added value for Antwerp and Zeebrugge and their surroundings, for customers and stakeholders, but also for the rest of Flanders. Both ports defined three strategic priorities in a joint plan: sustainable growth, resilience and leadership in the energy and digital transition.
Bart De Wever: “Ports are the driving force behind the Flemish economy”
Antwerp’s mayor Bart De Wever also welcomes the merger. “Our ports are the driving force behind our Flemish economy. This historic agreement brings together two cities with a rich trading history. The port of Antwerp is the economic heart of our country. The unification with Zeebrugge is an incredible opportunity and will strengthen the leading position of our port in Europe as well as globally. Today we are facing unprecedented economic and social challenges, and our ports can play an important role in this economic recovery. As a combined port, we can bring strong assets to the table. In this way, we guarantee the prosperity of future generations, we achieve sustainable growth, and the port can serve as a lever to map out the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy in full. In this way, we and our Flemish ports are an inspiration to others.”
Annick De Ridder: “On the way to becoming Europe’s leading port”
Both parties aim to complete the transaction in the course of 2021. Annick De Ridder, Antwerp port alderwoman and chair of the board of directors of the Antwerp Port Authority, responds ambitiously. “We are proud of this historic agreement, which seals a long-awaited union. With this partnership, we are on the way to becoming Europe’s leading port. This will make us even more attractive to existing customers, new investors and all other possible stakeholders, and we will be the indisputable economic engine of Flanders. The ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp are highly complementary and together we are better able to cope with external challenges.”