The City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges in Belgium have reached an agreement to merge their respective ports.

The agreement marks the start of a unification process that is expected to take a year to finalise.

Once completed, the ports will operate under the name ‘Port of Antwerp-Bruges’.

The ports see the merger as an opportunity to strengthen their position within the global supply chain especially as they transition towards a low-carbon economy.

The ambition is for Port of Antwerp-Bruges to become the world’s first port to reconcile economy, people and climate.

The merged port will have a total throughput of 278 million tonnes per year, handling 157 million tonnes/year of container cargo, while remaining a hub for breakbulk, vehicles cargo, natural gas, chemical cargo, and the cruise industry in Europe.

As part of a joint plan, the two ports have defined three strategic priorities – sustainable growth, resilience and leadership in the energy and digital transition.

In order to maximise the added value of a unified port, Port of Antwerp-Bruges will seek to develop and make optimum use of the interconnectivity between the two ports.

The transportation of goods by rail between the two sites will be bundled, estuary traffic (by inland vessels on the North Sea) will be optimised and pipeline connections will also be on the list of priorities.

Committed strategic investments, such as the new sea lock in Zeebrugge and the additional container capacity in Antwerp, will go ahead.

The port intends to identify as many synergies as possible, to continue to build on the extensive support within society for this driver of Flanders’ economy and to reinforce its position as a logistical, maritime and industrial centre. Not only within Flanders and Belgium, but on a European level and worldwide.

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