Economic activity and employment

The port of Antwerp is a unique platform due to the interplay of goods handling, industry and logistics.


Antwerp excels as a versatile world port owing to the presence of maritime companies, industry and logistics companies. At no other port are the various services so keenly aligned to one another.


In order to be able to handle the anticipated growth in container traffic, we are currently working hard on extra space for the storage and handling of containers. The Flemish Government approved the Preference Decision for the development of extra container handling capacity at the port of Antwerp in January 2020. The additional capacity will be created through more efficient use of the existing port grounds and a limited expansion in the form of a new tidal dock, which will also provide further logistics areas and multi-modal access.


©Source: Antwerp Port Authority, annual reports from other ports


Despite geopolitical uncertainties and slowing economic growth, the total throughput rose in 2019 for the seventh year in a row. Containers were the most major driver for this growth. The consequences of global barriers to trade were tangible in the transshipment of breakbulk, with steel the most important product, while the transshipment of liquid bulk fell owing to reduced demand and fluctuating oil prices.

We are proud of how we held up in 2020. The total throughput of Port of Antwerp in 2020 amounted to 231 million metric tons of cargo. The fall in total transshipment meant this dropped by only 3.1% compared to 2019. Thanks to the buoyant container transshipment rates, which exceeded the 12 million TEU mark, the port was able to limit the overall decline in transshipment.

Compared to most other ports in the Hamburg-Le Havre Range, the port held up very well despite a year dominated by coronavirus and other trade tensions.  The container segment has seen sustained growth since 2014, affording the port a continual increase in its market share in the Hamburg-Le Havre Range.

©Source: National Bank of Belgium
Verified data

Investments from the various sectors

Following the €5 billion investment peak in 2018 (distorted by Euronav's merger), the investment volume fell back to €3.3 billion in 2019, which is comparable with the amounts for the years prior to 2018. The investments were once again mainly focused on the chemical companies, where the amounts invested fell once more in 2019 following a peak in 2018. High investment volumes confirm that the port of Antwerp is an attractive location: on the one hand, it is the home base for the largest (petro)chemical cluster in Europe. On the other, its central location, high productivity and high quality of storage, transshipment, distribution and transport companies play a major role.

Added value

Port of Antwerp & other sectors

In 2019, the port of Antwerp achieved an added value of 19 billion euros in total (directly + indirectly), accounting for 4 percent of Belgian GDP and 6.7% of Flemish GDP. Added value in maritime activities made a positive contribution to the increase in direct added value due to the growth in throughput and the rise in forward charter rates, among other things. The port's direct added value is dominated by the added value of the non-maritime cluster, although this did shrink in 2019 owing to lower sales prices and volumes in the chemical industry.

Grafieken©Source: National Bank of Belgium
Verified data

Direct and indirect added value

The port of Antwerp's direct added value is seeing a rising trend. It grew by 0.7% in 2019. The main reason for this limited increase was a 2.5% drop in the added value of the non-maritime cluster. This can largely be explained by a 4.7% fall in the added value in the chemical industry.

Grafieken©Source: National Bank of Belgium
Verified data

Per cluster

Er is een sterke groei te zien in de industriële cluster. Binnen de maritieme cluster (scheepsagenten en expediteurs, rederijen, goederenbehandeling, maritieme handel, scheepsbouw en herstelling) daalt de toegevoegde waarde in 2018 en 2019 ten opzichte van 2017. 


Grafieken©Source: National Bank of Belgium
Verified data

Per sector

The direct added value grew by 0.7% in 2019. A number of large chemical companies saw a stark fall in their profit margin and turnover in 2019 due to a drop in sales prices and owing to shrinking sales values, on account of the automobile industry.
Other branches, such as energy and trade, instead saw a rise in their added value, which mitigated the fall in the non-maritime cluster to some extent.

On the other hand, the added value of the maritime cluster, which is dominated by throughput, rose by 3.2%.

Grafieken©Source: Antwerp Port Authority

Logistical activity

The covered storage capacity at the port of Antwerp amounts to 615 hectares, which has remained constant in recent years.

Grafieken©Source: Antwerp Port Authority

Tank storage

The tank storage space for petroleum refineries continues to occupy 5.4 million m³. At storage and distribution companies, the tank storage capacity rose from 7.2 to 8.3 million m³.