Belgium: Port of Antwerp seeks to further strengthen links with China

The port of Antwerp is an important distribution platform for the European market. Its excellent hinterland connections – 60% of European purchasing power is located within a 500 km radius of Antwerp – and its extensive storage facilities and added-value services offer valuable advantages for a great many international shippers. To emphasise the importance of Antwerp in world trade for the South China market too, the port is organising a road show in the southern Chinese ports of Shenzhen and Guangzhou from 15 to 19 October.

Shenzhen is a dynamic seaport with the Pearl river delta as its hinterland, where many export-oriented businesses are located. It is also the fourth-largest container port in the world. Trade between Shenzhen and Antwerp has been growing rapidly in the past few years. Antwerp has maintained close relations with Shenzhen since 2008, and the two became sister ports in 2010. Indeed the sister port agreement will be reconfirmed and further strengthened on 15 October.

Another important centre of economic growth on the Pearl river is Guangzhou, the capital of the Chinese province of Guangdong. This inland city is the eighth-largest container port in the world. Just as in the Shenzhen region there is a concentration of export-oriented companies in and around Guangzhou.

Trade between Antwerp and China has expanded rapidly in the past few years, with China becoming Antwerp’s fourth-largest trading partner. The main goods shipped from China to Antwerp are containerised freight, metal products and chemicals. In the opposite direction the main categories are containerised freight, ore and recycled metal, metal products and petroleum products.

In recent years Antwerp has worked hard at strengthening relations with China. Last year the Chinese-Antwerp Circle of Friends was set up on the occasion of a trade mission to China led by Prince Philip of Belgium. This is a virtual network in which business people from Antwerp and China are able to maintain relations of business and friendship. More information can be found at

APEC, Antwerp's international maritime trading centre, has long played a crucial role in the good relations with China. This Port Authority subsidiary has been recognised by the Chinese State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) as a qualified overseas training institution for Chinese delegations since 2004. In fact, APEC is the only European training institute to obtain such recognition from SAFEA.

In addition Antwerp Port Authority has invested in establishing representatives in a number of overseas regions including China. Jan Van der Borght, the representative of the port of Antwerp in Shanghai since 2008, even received the Silver Magnolia Award. This prestigious award is presented to foreigners based in Shanghai who have made a notable contribution to the economic development of the city and its international relations.

Finally there is also good collaboration in the field of culture. Part of the collection of Chinese junks held by the MAS museum in Antwerp is on display in the China Maritime Museum in Shanghai. To further promote the good trade relations with China that go back for centuries, the port of Antwerp was keen to mount a temporary exhibition in that country, showing part of its collection with immense cultural and historical significance.

For more information:
Annik Dirkx
Tel: +32 3 205 23 09
Mob: +32 479 79 46 50

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