The Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) on April 21 organised a trade meet to welcome and interact with the delegates consisting of top officials of Port of Antwerp, Belgium with an objective to explore on the latest updates and developments at this strategic port as regards to advanced technology and trade facilitation that may be touted to benefit EXIM trade.

Shankar Shinde, Chairman, FFFAI after extending a warm welcome to all members and dignitaries, went on to felicitate Luc Arnouts, Vice President- International Relations and Networks, Port of Antwerp; Ann De Smet, Key Account Manager, Port of Antwerp; Bernadette Deschepper, Regional Coordinator, Port of Antwerp; Daljit Singh Kohli and Shivendu S Padte, India representatives for Port of Antwerp on their visit to India to showcase the products and services available for the trade.

Shinde committed full support to the port authority in increasing international trade to and from India using Antwerp as a transit point. The Chairman appreciated the trade-friendly initiatives of the port with huge and high-tech infrastructure.

The event was also attended by other FFFAI office bearers including Chairman-Elect Dushyant Mulani; Vice Chairmen S Narataja, Amit Kamat, and Sudip Dey; Honorary Secretary Vinod Sharma; along with other EC Members.

Industry veterans, namely Shantanu Bhadkamkar, Past Chairman; FFFAI; Xerrxes Master, President, AMTOI; Adarsh Hegde, Managing Committee Member, CFSAI; Ram Iyer, President, MANSA; Tushar Jani, Chairman, CSC India; Kiran Rambhia, President, BCBA; Nikhil Modi, Director, EXIM India; Kalpesh Modi, Director, Daily Shipping Times; Kaushal, CAI; Shashi Tanna, MD, Links Group; Sunil Vaswani, Executive Director, CSLA; Umesh Grover, CFSAI; Naresh Parekh, Director, Parekh Group; Anand Seth, Director, Chinnubhai Kalidas & Bros; Nailesh Gandhi, Director, Express Group of Companies; Promod Sant, former Vice President- Head of Import Export and Customs at Siemens; and media dignitaries also graced the occasion.

Presenting the current trade scenario via Port of Antwerp and advantages to the trade making this port as transit hub to reach Europe and beyond Arnouts shared the latest performance of the port despite many challenges, viz COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine war, shortage of containers, etc. “Throughput of Port of Antwerp amounted to 58.3 million metric tonnes in the first quarter of 2022, a drop of 1.5% compared with the same period last year.”

“On the eve of Antwerp’s merger with Port of Zeebrugge, these quarterly figures confirm the importance of responding to the current challenges collectively and further reinforcing the position in the international logistical chain. Furthermore,the drop in the container segment, which is partly the result of capacity problems, underscores the urgency of extra container capacity,” Arnouts expressed.

He pointed out that the container segment has been under pressure due to worldwide congestion. Despite difficult circumstances, the container segment held firm in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, however, container traffic saw a fall of 11.6% in TEU compared to the same period last year, the second best quarter ever for containers.

According to him, the disruption to container liner trade, delays and high import call sizes (number of containers unloaded by ships) are posing protracted operational challenges, which are making the operation of the container terminals more difficult. Moreover, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the sanctions imposed also put pressure on the number of containers handled.

“At Port of Antwerp, total cargo throughput in 2021 was 240 million tonnes with a growth of 3.8% compared to 2020 and slight growth compared to 2019. The year 2022 promises to be an exciting year, with the merger with Port of Zeebrugge and important milestones for numerous pioneering projects, despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” he emphasised.

He further stressed upon the Port of Antwerp’s mission. “Home port as a lever for a sustainable future. Antwerp is more than a port, more than transport, tonnes and TEUs.”

He stated that it is a unique synergy between maritime transshipment and transport, logistics and industry. “With these various activities, we as a port are a crucial link in the global economy. This is why we are doing well in these times of rapid change. And we want to keep this up: responding flexibly to the rapidly evolving maritime market, so that the port of Antwerp continues to play that leading role as an international world port, both now and in the future,” he added.

Arnouts expressed gratitude to FFFAI for providing opportunities to showcase the products, services and facilities available at the port for the benefit of the freight forwarders, logistics industry and EXIM trade. He assured full cooperation to FFFAI and the logistics industry people in India for win-win benefits.


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