There are currently a thousand containers in the port of Antwerp bound for Russia, Belarus or Ukraine. Customs must check whether its contents fall under the European ban.
Since Saturday, customs check goods destined for Russia, Belarus or Ukraine. Under European sanctions, a complete list of items may not be shipped to the region.
Because of the controls, there are about a thousand containers currently stuck in the port of Antwerp, says Finance Ministry Vincent van Bettieghem (CD&V). “Based on the loading code, we determine if an inspection is necessary. After the goods are checked, the goods may or may not be released.”
Since the checks started, no clogged containers have been able to leave. The sanctions package will no longer allow the supply of strategically important goods to Russia, such as aviation components or technological equipment. Dual-use goods, which can be used for both peaceful and military purposes, are also prohibited.
Mess for shipping companies
Meanwhile, container shipping companies Hapag-Lloyd and ONE have suspended shipping reservations to and from Russia. MSC, the world’s largest shipping company, is not doing this at the moment. “We will of course comply with the European embargo and customs controls,” says Mark Berland, CEO of MSC Belgium.
MSC has two weekly connections between Antwerp and Saint Petersburg. Berland says the operations have become very complicated by the conflict. The sanctions came unexpectedly on Friday evening and had very serious consequences. Belgian customs authorities help find solutions. There are also regular consultations between customs and the sector.”