Focus industries

Antwerp is most famous for its diamond trade, the world class port & logistics business and its well developed oil & chemical cluster. Besides that Antwerp acquired fame as a retail & fashion centre and for its many business services centres.

World port city

The port of Antwerp is a world port. It is the 11th largest port in the world and the 2nd largest port in Europe. 

The Antwerp port has an excellent infrastructure for receiving all types of transports and goods. Moreover, absolutely no other port is so centrally located in Europe as Antwerp, which makes transport to the consumers easier, more sustainable, more efficient and consequently less expensive.

“The accessibility of the port by different modes of transport, such as sea transport, barge transport, road and rail, thanks to an excellent infrastructure is undoubtedly a major strategic advantage. However, for the chemical industry, a well-developed pipeline network is as important.”

The port of Antwerp´s success story

The Antwerp port has an excellent infrastructure for receiving all types of transports and goods. Moreover, absolutely no other port is so centrally located in Europe as Antwerp, which makes transport to the consumers easier, more sustainable, more efficient and consequently less expensive.

  • Unique location: 60% of EU purchasing power in a radius of 500 km.
  • “Extended Gateways”, which improve port-inland connections, to all corners of Europe.
  • Well-developed multimodality with water, rail, and road connections, as well as pipelines.
  • Very high productivity.
  • Available space: the Port Authority (Gemeentelijk Havenbedrijf) grants concessions across nearly 4000 hectares of land and quays.
  • 550 hectares of specialised, indoor storage space.
  • Comprehensive logistics services.
  • Growth in renewable energy supply.
  • Continuous investments in expansion and modernisation.

Logistics services

Whether your business requires goods, exports them or both, our logistical solutions, partnerships & platforms are capable of delivering a Just In Time supply-chain for your business.

Enhanced digital solutions

Your business is in safe hands thanks to a digital service offering which includes:

  • Cargo- & vessel tracking
  • Route-planning & best easy overview of transport-mode to use (rail, shipping, pipeline or trucks)
  • Vessel booking
  • Document administration.

Omnichannel supply chain offering

The port of Antwerp is not only linked to the Scheldt, but can also transport goods over water via e.g. the Albert Canal, the Scheldt-Rhine Connection and the Scheldt-Seine Connection. Over these rivers and canals, inland navigation vessels can transport large quantities of goods at the same time. For example, all of the products that you find in Colruyt stores travel via inland navigation vessels to a central warehouse saving costs on expensive road-transport.

Expertise in every sector

The Port Authority, terminals and their logistic partners offer a broad array of services. Furthermore, they can offer you tailor-made expertise for the following sectors:

  • Oil & Chemicals
  • Building Materials
  • Industrial Minetals
  • Automotive
  • FMCG
  • Foodstuffs
  • Pharma
  • Forest-products
  • Project Cargo

World diamond centre

Around eighty four percent of all rough diamonds pass through Antwerp on their way towards becoming earrings or other pieces of jewellery. Antwerp is home to both diamond wholesalers, traders and cutters, to diamond schools and start-ups inventing new technologies to get even more brightness out of stones that have an Antwerp Cut. Innovation is at the heart of the diamond industry as new technology is created to detect and screen lab grown diamonds and differentiate them from natural diamonds.

The biggest

Daily, 220 million dollars’ worth of diamonds are traded, adding up to an amazing 48 billion dollars annually. On a surface of less than 1 square mile more than 1700 registered diamond traders are active. No other city in the world houses four diamond exchanges, controls 84% of the world’s trade in rough diamonds and 50% of the trade in polished diamonds.

Every diamond in the world passes at least once in Antwerp! In 2016, more than 202 million carats of both rough and cut diamonds were traded. Adding up to a total value of 48 billion dollars.

The first

For over 5 centuries, Antwerp is the heart of the global diamond trade. The oldest documents to prove the existence of diamond trade in Antwerp date back to 1447. In Antwerp, the ancient craft is combined with modern technologies. The brilliant, the most popular diamond cut in the world, was created in Antwerp by Tolkowsky in 1919. Even today Antwerp remains pioneer in the development of new techniques.

The purest

Antwerp firmly says no to conflict diamonds. Since the approval of the Kimberley Process, Antwerp fulfils the role as global moral leader in transparency and compliance.

In collaboration with the federal government of Belgium all diamond imports and exports are physically controlled through the Diamond Office, which serves as an example to many other diamond centres in the world.

Oil & chemical cluster

All major chemistry and refinery companies worldwide have their European headquarters in Antwerp. From here, an intricate network of pipelines brings oil to the heart of the mainland. Starting companies can easily plug into this existing network of companies.

Home to both base chemicals and fine chemicals production, the Antwerp oil and chemical cluster can offer great integration possibilities. More than 7 million m3 of third-party liquid storage solutions, 2 top 10 refineries, 4 steam crackers and no fewer than 30 companies operating in the oil and chemical sector, including at least 10 top world players, all located in the port area. They are supported by world players in the contracting and logistics sectors.

  • Largest integrated European oil and chemical cluster
  • Stable supply of feedstock, raw materials and intermediates
  • Mutual beneficial synergies through integration of products and energy
  • Outstanding pipeline connectivity, tank storage and product handling
  • Green, brownfield and co-siting sites available.

Well connected value chains

The experience in the oil and chemical sector built up in the Port of Antwerp guarantees a stable supply of feedstock, raw materials and intermediates, together with smooth transport of finished products to a continental market that stretches from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, from the UK to the Caucasus.
But also overseas markets are within reach of your Antwerp production plants, thanks to the port.

Retail & fashion capital

Antwerp is home to flagship stores and branches from all major retailers around the world. Next to these global names, a seamingly endless row of smaller, local boutiques with collections from up-and-coming fashion designers line the streets. You can find everything here – from grungy street style to catwalk.

Even those who don’t enjoy clothes shopping might have a change of heart here, where one-off boutiques such as glove purveyor Huis A. Boon line cobblestoned streets and where grand designer stores — including those of local fashion stars Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester — display a refreshing lack of attitude.

High spending potential

The atmosphere in Antwerp is one of enjoyment and relaxation, which attracts visitors of all ages who are quite prepared to spend their money on gourmet dining, shopping, an afternoon or a weekend of culture and fun. The quality of life is high, and this is evident to every visitor.

Throughout Belgium, the GDP per capita – and hence purchasing power – is 19% higher than the average in Europe. In the Province of Antwerp, the GDP is 38% higher, and even 45% in the District of Antwerp. And shoppers choose Antwerp as their favourite place to spend their income.

The major international companies in and around Antwerp also attract a steady stream of international workers. Moneyed expats love all the comforts that the city offers. They also feel at home in Antwerp.

Retail DNA

Retail is ingrained in Antwerp. Trade is a crucial part of the city’s rich history and has helped shape the streets and magnificent buildings.

But Antwerp does not remain stuck in the past. Growth is an integral part of the city's DNA. The areas in and around the centre are constantly changing and are turning Antwerp into a magnet for innovation and creativity.

This is the place where trends start, entrepreneurs launch new ideas and shoppers discover the latest fads. And the city? Provides space, is being moulded and is open to everything.

Antwerp is like a big lab where new trends and new names crop up first.

Circular economy

Cleantech, short for ´clean technology´, is an important growth sector because it can offer an answer to important social challenges such as climate change and shortages of raw materials. It deals with products, processes and services that, thanks to the use of innovative technology, create both an economic and a social added value through the efficient use of - as far as possible renewable - energy sources and materials.

Closing cycles is the number one task. An important element of this is the transformation of waste into new raw materials or energy. The valorisation of waste and by-product flows is oriented towards adapting or organising (industrial) processes so that waste from a given process is turned into raw material either for its own process once again or for a different process. This produces a significant cost advantage, reduces dependency on external economies and offers important environmental benefits.

Waste management

Waste management thus forms an important European and Flemish focus of attention. Under the Flemish Materials Decree, waste is no longer regarded as an end point (this is only still allowed under very strict conditions) but rather a secondary raw material or source of energy. Flanders is thus a trendsetter in materials management and an absolute leader in recycling. Flanders is number one in Europe, with 65% recycling of household waste.

The Blue Gate Antwerp and BlueChem projects are going all in on cleantech and waste management in Antwerp.

Blue Gate Antwerp

Blue Gate Antwerp is a brownfield of 103 hectares in the southwest of Antwerp that is being redeveloped into a high-quality waterfront and eco-effective business area.

Blue Gate Antwerp offers space to innovative production companies, waterway-linked logistics companies and research and development, and is fully committed to the circular economy.

Blue Gate Antwerp wants to be CO2-neutral. The prevention or recycling of waste, the maximum and integral closing of material cycles, the use of renewable energy, the focus on green products… are all essential characteristics of the site. 


BlueChem is being realised at Blue Gate Antwerp.

BlueChem is an incubator/accelerator for sustainable chemistry. All sustainable chemical entrepreneurs - starters, growth companies and the entrepreneurs within the R&D departments of large companies, universities, knowledge institutions and university colleges - are accelerated and strengthened here. They can count on a financial and go-to-market service.

An important focus of BlueChem is the acceleration and strengthening of chemical entrepreneurs who are active in the valorisation of waste and by-product flows, including biomass, energy and water. In this context, the valorisation of bio-aromatics (plastics) and C1-, C2- and C5-chains (converting carbon into material or energy) are especially promising.  

Digital innovation

Antwerp is brimming with innovative entrepreneurial talent and has become a real hotspot for startups and growth companies. For instance, the City has more than 350 startups, dozens of growth companies netting 500,000 euros in capital, many incubators, accelerators and other startup initiatives. The City supports such private initiatives and even gives startups a bit of a boost. With StartupVillage for example, where startups, large companies, mentors and investors meet together to discuss business, in the heart of the city. 

Eager to develop this ecosystem for digital innovation, the City of Antwerp offers funding, business locations, individual coaching and matchmaking to technological start-ups and creative entrepreneurs. The City acts in constant synergy with the private sector.

Incubation and acceleration

The city is home to several incubators, accelerators and other startup initiatives: Start it @kbc, Telenet Kickstart, imec.iStart, The CoFoundry, Netwerk Ondernemen, VOKA Bryo, De Winkelhaak, The Birdhouse, Idealabs, LOGIN,  and soon also De Stookplaats by Duval Union. Brand new entrepreneurs can approach these initiatives to give shape to their ideas, mould them into a marketable product and establish their own startup.

In addition, the City is also involved in the operation of BlueHealth Antwerp and BlueChem incubators.

Strong Digital Economy

Belgium is a strong performer and front-runner in creating a digital economy and society. We rank fifth (before the UK, Germany and France) in a survey among EU member states and attain top marks in:

  • Quality of broadband connectivity
  • Digital proficiency of population
  • Use of internet by citizens
  • Integration of digital technology by businesses
  • Digital public services
Source: Digital Economy and Society Index (2016)