2024-06-07

Zeebrugge as a logistics hub for Ireland and the United Kingdom

The port of Zeebrugge historically grew as a strategic hub for trade with the United Kingdom and Ireland. Today, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is the second most important port for trade with the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Important logistics hub

Port of Antwerp-Bruges is the second most important port for trade with the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 2022, the throughput to and from the United Kingdom amounted to 25.7 million tons, while for Ireland, this was 4.2 million tons. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a crucial logistics link to the European continent, and Belgium is aamportant trading partner. For Ireland, Belgium is the fourth most important export partner, with a turnover of 18.5 billion euros. The United Kingdom exports to Belgium for 29.2 billion euros, making Belgium the fifth most important export country for the UK.

Excellent location

The Zeebrugge platform offers several important advantages as a logistics hub for the UK and Ireland. The most obvious advantage is its geographical location. As one of the shortest maritime routes to the UK, the port often provides a faster and more direct connection than train routes via Calais, for example. From Zeebrugge, ships can sail directly to Northern England without having to traverse the entire country.

“Zeebrugge is excellently located to serve the UK and Ireland from the continent and vice versa. From the port, you always take the shortest route by ship to anywhere in the UK and Ireland.”

Sven Pieters – CEO at ECS European Containers

Consolidation of goods and exceptional flexibility

The port of Zeebrugge offers extensive storage facilities. This allows producers to use the warehouses in Zeebrugge to efficiently send their goods to distribution centers in the UK and Ireland precisely when needed. This way, producers and retailers can maintain smaller stocks themselves. Large producers ship full loads directly, but smaller players benefit from consolidating their goods with those of other producers. Various customers are served with one container. For these deliveries, Zeebrugge offers exceptional flexibility with, for example, five to six sailings to London daily, enabling a just-in-time system. This provides a significant competitive advantage over other ports.

 

"If goods didn't make it onto a ship on time, there’s another departure scheduled six hours later. And another six hours later. This makes deliveries incredibly flexible."

Yves Strubbe – Sales Director at ECS European Containers
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Expertise in customs formalities

Thanks to their geographical location near the United Kingdom, many logistics players in the port of Zeebrugge possess administrative expertise in customs handling. This has become especially valuable after Brexit. Companies in the port area have seized this situation as an opportunity and offer extensive services for customs declarations, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. This is especially convenient for customers, as the regulations, with the introduction of Brexit phase 3, are becoming increasingly complex.

"Brexit hasn’t made customs declarations any easier. We saw an opportunity to further relieve our customers with our own customs handling."

Sven Pieters – CEO at ECS European Containers
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Unique opportunities for modal shift

The companies within Port of Antwerp-Bruges seize every challenge as an opportunity, with a strong focus on sustainability. One of the major challenges for the European logistics sector is the driver shortage. A possible solution lies in rail transport. It is a reliable and efficient transport solution. Moreover, it is more sustainable and reduces road congestion. Zeebrugge benefits from excellent rail connections and shortsea connections to destinations across Europe. The port is therefore ready for the modal shift.

"Earlier this year, we launched two weekly rail connections between Zeebrugge and the Czech Republic, and in August we will start a new connection to Germany. This way, we remove more than 20,000 containers from the road annually. This is a real modal shift, from road to rail, towards Zeebrugge."

Yves Strubbe – Sales Director at ECS European Containers

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