Guangzhou and Antwerp sign ‘twin ports’ agreement

The ports of Guangzhou and Antwerp have this month signed a twinning agreement, committing to closer collaboration across several aspects of their operations.

Antwerp twin agreement

With an annual freight volume of 510 million tonnes including 16.63 million TEU, Guangzhou is one of the main container ports in China. This coastal port in the province of Guangdong is the fifth-largest in China and number eight in the world, acting mainly for transhipment of fuelstuffs, raw materials and commercial goods. Like Antwerp, Europe’s second-largest port, Guangzhou is located quite a long distance inland. Both ports are multifunctional and have strong trimodal connections with a rich hinterland.

The relationship between the two has some history. The ports signed a collaboration agreement back in 2010 for the transfer of skills and know-how under the auspices of APEC, the training subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority. Since then leading maritime professionals from Guangzhou have received tailor-made training in Antwerp. Guangzhou recognises the importance of the maritime training and expertise which Antwerp has to offer, and so in collaboration with APEC and three other partners it is setting up a joint training institute under the name of Guangzhou-Antwerp Port Training & Consultancy Co. Ltd. This training centre will offer courses in port operations for professionals from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Currently there are two shipping services between North-West Europe and China calling at Guangzhou and Antwerp. By developing a joint marketing approach the respective port authorities aim to get both ports included in several more loops.

Other action points in the twinning agreement include the exchange of information on port development and best practices for sustainable enterprise in a port environment.

The twinning agreement also dovetails perfectly with the philosophy of ‘One Belt One Road’ that was announced by China in the autumn of 2013. This project aims to improve connections between the main Chinese industrial cities and trade centres elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It includes a ‘rail track’ that roughly follows the route of the ancient Silk Road together with a ‘shipping track’ that includes South-East Asia and the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean.