Belgian port chief uses Humber visit to call for free post-Brexit trade movement

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 26 Sep 2017

TRADE between the Humber ports and Zeebrugge must not be allowed to be negatively affected by Brexit. 

That was the key message from business leaders representing the Belgian port during their visit to meet their counterparts in the Humber.

Reflecting on a long history of trade links going back centuries between the two ports, chief executive of Zeebrugge Port Authority, Joachim Coens, admitted to being “concerned” about Brexit but urged Humber business leaders to put maximum pressure on EU and UK negotiators to preserve the current free movement of trade. 

He also revealed that he and his colleagues had made the same point to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, when he visited Zeebrugge recently.

READ MORE: Freight’s northern way offers Humber's ports potential

Zeebrugge handles 40-million tonnes of cargo, much of that on ro-ro ferries. 

In a year it serves 8,467 vessels, with 45 per cent of Zeebrugge’s trade being UK-related, with the next largest customer being Sweden at just 10.9 per cent.

Ro-ro traffic currently accounts for 14.3-million tons of cargo, 1.3-million trucks and 2.8-million cars in an industry which has grown rapidly in recent years in both countries, with the Belgian port being able to store 150,000 cars. 

Mr Coen also highlighted that the UK produces 1.5-million cars with 1.1-million of those being exported – one-million of those vehicles going through Zeebrugge. 

In the opposite direction, 2.6-million vehicles are imported into the UK with many of those coming through Grimsby and Immingham.

Following the presentation by the Belgian business leaders the president of the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, Phil Ascough, thanked the delegation and promised a return trip to Belgium later in the year to further strengthen trade links. He also thanked Hull University’s Institute of Logistics for hosting the event.

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