The Port of Antwerp Authority in association with the Cochin Chamber of Commerce & Industry, organized a High-tea Event on Monday the 3rd of December, 2018 at Hotel Trident, Willingdon Island between 16.30hrs and 18.30hrs.
The programme was organized to discuss issues relating to the supply chain of Sea Food Exports and to showcase the Port of Antwerp as an ideal solution to the supply chain management issues faced by the Sea Food Exporters in Kerala.
The event was attended by representatives from various Cochin based companies that export and import seafood. The event started at 5 pm with introductory remarks by Ms. Malini Dutt representing the Port of Antwerp Authority in India. She recalled that the Indian Branch Office of the Port of Antwerp was set up in the year 2006, the first of its kind. She also introduced Mr. Ben Van Wolput the MD of Antwerp Cold Stores and the founding member of Fruits & Perishables, to the audience.
Mr. Alex Ninan, President of the Seafood Exporters Association of India spoke on the occassion. He said that the Sea food Industry in India had its roots in Kochi where the headquarters of many prominent marine organizations including CMFRI, MPEDA and CIFT are located. He also reflected on the fact that the people involved in this industry preferred direct contact with the customers though the times have changed with innovative technologies. He concluded by saying that the Port of Antwerp acted as a window to the supply chain production for the exporters in Cochin.
Mr. V. Venugopal, President of the CCCI also spoke on the occasion.
Ms. Malini Dutt made a Powerpoint presentation on the Port of Antwerp. She said that the Port was considered as a perishables hub with a 2 million cubic meters of temperature-controlled warehousing capacity. The port handles 7.2 million tonnes of freight with containers, steel, and gasoline being its top three cargos. The Port of Antwerp plays a crucial role in the Belgian economy by contributing 5% to its GDP and provides 149000 jobs in the country. She added that the Port had warehouses that were GDP and ISO certified and offered value-added services including galvanizing steel, sorting, packing and real-time temperature and location monitoring of cargo. It was noted that the Port of Antwerp offered the least terminal handling costs compared to others in Europe. Pre-clearance of the vessel while still at sea, digital procedures, integrated customs, and food inspection services are the other advantages that the Port offers. Ms. Dutt said that the Port of Antwerp also acted as a transshipment hub for those exporters looking to send their cargo to countries like Russia and Morocco.
The Port of Antwerp acts as a major gateway to UK and Germany because of its strategic location and 46% of its maritime traffic is attributed to Eastern Europe. With an extensive waterway network, barge services, and rail connectivity to central and Eastern Europe, this Port is very well linked to entire Europe thus making it cost-effective and efficient.
Mr. Ben Van Wolput also had a presentation for the audience outlining the facilities at the Antwerp Cold Store. It was observed that the changing diet of the emerging nations and a growing demand for European food products increased the import of food into the continent. Antwerp Cold Stores is located on the left bank of the Port of Antwerp and operates on a site of 56.000 square meters. The company accommodates a warehouse which has a capacity of 8500 pallets for frozen foodstuff and 7500 for chilled products. The Antwerp Cold Stores offer solutions for the import of perishable food and agricultural products into Europe via the Port of Antwerp and claims that its business model is commodity-focused. Freight, documentation, handling and storage, transportation and shipment monitoring are the main services offered by the Company. He also compared the import services via the Port of Antwerp namely direct deliveries, import via VAT warehouse and import via a bonded warehouse.
The floor was then open for discussions wherein queries, pertaining to Brexit and also the necessary documents required for sending cargo were discussed. According to Ms. Dutt the Antwerp Cold Stores had an advantage of receiving more cargo that would otherwise have gone to UK thanks to Brexit. Mr. Ben Van Wolput also added that the Antwerp Cold Stores offered a few value added services including wine tasting and even a meeting hall in their office for their clients who wished to meet their end customer .He said that the Port of Antwerp is customer-centric and a far more friendlier port than the other European ports like the Hamburg and Rotterdam. During the discussions he said that their storage facility stocked imported chocolates from Switzerland and also products including butter and milk from New Zealand.
Mr Vijayakumar of FIEO proposed the Vote of Thanks.
The Session ended at 6:30 pm.