Antwerp is one of the largest ports in Europe, where Millions of tons of cargo transit every year,
Its top trading partner is – by far – the United States.
Half of all EU steel exports to the US are shipped from these docks.
Donald Trump’s decision in June to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports had a lot of people worried.
But according to Wim Dillen, a port manager, so far the tariffs have had unexpected consequences.
“Quite surprisingly perhaps, we have exported more steel in the first six months of this year than we did in the first six months of last year,” Dillen says. “But I think that has to do a lot with companies anticipating what is going to come and filling their stocks in the US. But if this would last for a long time, I think it will become very negative indeed.”
Thousands of tonnes of steel from all over Europe are stored in Antwerp, waiting for a ship to carry them to the US. Antwerp’s experience in handling high end products makes it an ideal partner for American industries.
“On a daily basis there are between 150 and 400 people working here, directly handling the steel products for the US,” says Dennis Verbeeck, general dock manager at PSA Breakbulk. “And you know with all these kinds of import duties, or hamperings like we might call them here, locally, that might affect those guys. That might affect those people and those families.”
Antwerp’s dock workers are not the only watching the transatlantic trade talks. According to a steel sector representative, 20,000 European jobs depend directly on steel exports to the US.