The Port of Dunkirk has increased its container throughput in 2017 despite bad weather hitting some of its key trading partners.
Throughput was up by 10% to 374,000 teu at the Northern French port, which is the country’s leading port for containerised fruit and vegetable imports.
In a statement, the Port of Dunkirk said: “During 2017, this activity suffered the combined effects of Storm Matthew and then Hurricane Maria in the French Antilles, which severely affected the production of bananas and hence the imports of these fruits at the port of Dunkirk. Without these events and their economic impact, Dunkirk would have handled nearly 400,000 teu.”
The ‘French Antilles’ are a series of Caribbean islands which were colonised by the French and remain under French control including Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin.
In 2017, the port has been developing the Flanders Quay container terminal on the Western Port, which will allow the port to handle the world’s biggest container vessels – under optimal conditions. This €60m (US$73m) project will be commissioned in 2018.
On top of this, the Dunkerque Logistique International Sud logistics park is being developed and the port’s rail network will be separated from the national rail grid by 2019.
In terms of its customers, fruit importer Société Internationale d’IMportation (SIIM) is strengthening its partnership with Dunkirk – particularly with regard to importing mangoes from the Ivory Coast.
The port has also strengthened its historic links with Latin America.In 2017, it hosted delegations from Panama and Costa Rica and sent a delegation to Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica.
On top of this, the port has tried to develop its links with China. In March, a Dunkirk delegation visited the coastal province of Fuzhou and in April, a similar trade mission again visited China and held a symposium in Shanghai.
The port has also worked to ensure its relationship with the UK remains strong despite the UK voting to leave the European Union in 2019. The port’s executive committee were part of a 250-strong regional delegation went to London to promote the Hauts-de France region to the British.
Dunkirk authorities also continued to study and consult on its CAP 2020 plan – which includes the creation of container terminals. This plan will also encourage the transition from road transport to rail and waterway transport of goods.