The port community of Antwerp came together on Tuesday 7th January, ahead of a momentous year for the city, which will host the IAPH World Ports Conference for the first time.
More than 800 people attended the special port community New Year’s Reception, held in the ballroom of the Hilton Old Town. The event was jointly hosted by Alfaport Voka (representing the port community associations), CEPA (representing the port employers) and by the Port of Antwerp - host sponsor of the IAPH World Ports Conference 2020.
Innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration were highlighted as key themes at the event; Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon emphasised that these factors were essential to keeping the Flanders region in the top league of high-performing Northern European economies. He also emphasised the ongoing need for ‘a modal shift’ to invest in stronger inland shipping and rail access to support these ambitions.
Paul Valkeniers, CEO of CEPA (Employers Association of the Port of Antwerp) took up the theme of innovation and highlighted the IAPH World Ports Conference 2020 as a unique opportunity for the port community to get involved.
Alderwoman Annick De Ridder thanked Prime Minister Jambon for the Flemish government's ‘Christmas gift’: the agreement on the port expansion plan, which will offer additional container capacity in the Port of Antwerp. Citing a seventh year of record annual growth, De Ridder strongly emphasized the role of the port as both the country’s economic engine and as a sustainability champion. De Ridder also underlined that the port was a community, and the role of the Port Authority was to be a community builder.
New Alfaport chairman Bernard Moyson likewise emphasized cooperation, adding that – amid the headwinds of international threats, polarization and trade wars – it was encouraging that the port had again registered record-breaking cargo volumes.
Proceeds from the annual event went to Ondernemers voor Ondernemers [‘Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs’], a charity providing financial support to African entrepreneurs.
This March, Antwerp will play host to the IAPH World Ports Conference 2020; with an impressive list of speakers such as IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim, Group CEO of PSA International Tan Chong Meng, MD of Grimaldi Group Emanuele Grimaldi and CMB CEO Alexander Saverys already confirmed and a dynamic agenda focused on innovation and profitability, it is sure to be a must-attend event for all maritime professionals in the region.