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Port of Antwerp agrees partnership with big Chinese bank

05 February 2016

Antwerp Port Authority today made a partnership agreement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). The Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week at the official opening of the ICBC’s Antwerp branch in Brasschaat Castle. Until now ICBC only had an office in Brussels, but the bank, the world’s N° 1 in terms of assets and market capitalisation, is expanding its presence in Belgium.

With this agreement the Port Authority and ICBC plan to seek new opportunities that match the One Belt One Road strategic plan launched by China in autumn 2013. With this project China aims to link its main industrial cities more closely to commercial centres elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Within this framework Antwerp has been identified as an important region, with investment opportunities in the port forming an important source of collaboration.

Investment and strategic opportunities
As part of this collaboration ICBC will for example bring the port of Antwerp and related investment opportunities to the attention of Chinese investors. In addition the port’s business activities will be promoted among ICBC’s customers.

“Our efforts are directed at strengthening the positions of both sides as part of the One Belt One Road project,” explained chief commercial officer Luc Arnouts who signed the MoU on behalf of the Port Authority. “Antwerp is an attractive partner not only because of its location in the heart of Europe; its many overseas shipping connections make Antwerp a leading port at the western end of the modern ’Silk Road.’ Antwerp is also an important partner for china from the strategic point of view, thanks to the various collaboration agreements with ports or regions along the New Silk Road. Add to that the numerous attractive investment opportunities in our port, and the checklist that led to today’s agreement is complete,” he concluded.

Growing market share
The port of Antwerp has been making great efforts for a number of years now to increase its market share in China. In 2015 the results of these efforts were clearly reflected in the freight figures, as the total volume of shipping trade with China rose by nearly 40%. This rise in the volume of freight is largely due to higher figures for imports from China (up by more than 60%), which in turn is explained by the double call in Antwerp by the 2M Alliance.