Shanghai Port, the largest in the world, and the port of Antwerp, the second-largest in Europe, are to collaborate more closely. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to this effect during the recent trade mission to Shanghai, port of Antwerp said in its press release.
Antwerp and Shanghai have maintained close relationships with each other ever since they were first twinned in 1985. The twinning agreement was subsequently confirmed during the Belgian trade mission to China headed by the then prince Philippe of Belgium in 2004. Now, ten years later, the two ports have undertaken to collaborate intensively with one another in a number of fields. Antwerp’s maritime know-how is strongly represented in the port of Shanghai, as no fewer than 240 Chinese port professionals have been trained by APEC, the training subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority.
The port of Shanghai is the largest in the world, with a freight volume of 776 million tonnes in 2013. The number of containers handled last year was 33.61 TEU. Antwerp for its part is the largest port in Belgium and the second-largest in Europe. With a freight volume of 190 million tonnes and 8.6 million TEU, last year was a record year for the port. Both ports are absolute leaders in their respective regions. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that such world players are eager to collaborate more closely.
With the MoU that has just been signed Antwerp and Shanghai have agreed to among other things exchange information about their respective hinterlands, carry out joint promotion and set up training courses for maritime professionals. Antwerp attaches such great importance to the Shanghai region and South China that it appointed a permanent representative there in 2008. Ever since then Jan Van der Borght has worked tirelessly to raise Antwerp’s name recognition in China. And not without success: last month the City of Shanghai presented him with a Magnolia Award for the second time in recognition of his contribution to the economic development and international influence of Shanghai. He is only the second Belgian and the first foreign port representative to have received both a Silver (2012) and a Golden Magnolia Award.
“Friendship through port knowledge” is the baseline of APEC, the training centre for the port of Antwerp. Thanks to the many years of friendship between Antwerp and Shanghai many maritime professionals from China have been trained in Antwerp. APEC has been recognised since 2004 by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs in China (SAFEA) as a qualified “overseas training institution” for Chinese delegations. Indeed it is the only European port-related training institute to have received such recognition from SAFEA. APEC has also maintained collaboration arrangements with various Chinese partners for several years now. More than 3,800 Chinese specialists have already received training from APEC.