The Port of Antwerp will appoint a full-time representative in the UK, based in London, in order to keep in closer touch with the economic situation there now that Brexit is looming closer.
Attracting additional sources of trade and cargo will also form part of the new port representative’s job.
Luc Arnouts, the port authority’s international networks manager, said: “The UK is actually our third-largest trading partner. On the other hand the volume shrank by nearly 8% last year, probably due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”
Although the UK’s growth has slowed since the Brexit vote in 2016, its economy is still expanding, growing by 0.4% in the third quarter of 2017.
Antwerp Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren stated: “We plead for a clear, well-defined Brexit, both during the current transition period and in the post-Brexit age, in order to prevent a disintegration of the internal market.
“Once Brexit becomes a reality, we want to have an efficient framework that permits a smooth flow of trade. That means as few tariff barriers and administrative obstacles as possible.”
Robin Walker, British under-secretary of state at the Department for Exiting the EU, said: “As we look forward to our future relationship, an Implementation Period will be essential to provide certainty to people and businesses in the UK and in Belgium.”
Arnouts added: “The same also applies to Zeebrugge. We therefore seek to further expand our network of shortsea container services with the UK and Ireland.”