Around 8,000 cars destined for Russia blocked in Zeebrugge port

Around 8,000 cars destined for Russia blocked in Zeebrugge port
Credit: Port of Zeebrugge

Around 8,000 new cars are currently stuck in the port of Zeebrugge after being blocked for export by Belgian customs officials, according to the Managing Director of the International Car Operators (ICO) terminal, Marc Adriansens, on April 6. The export of vehicles and other goods to Russia from Belgium is banned in line with European economic sanctions.

These vehicles, that were likely purchased before the implementation of sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, can no longer be shipped to customers in Russia.

“At the moment, 8,000 cars are stuck in Zeebrugge and half of them are luxury cars that were blocked due to the previously imposed sanctions,” explained Adriansens.

Backlog of blocked exports

The port is currently managing to deal with the backlog of blocked exports, however the port will not be able to cope forever.

“We can accommodate up to 10,000 vehicles here, so there is still room, but we won’t be able to fill up the port with all these blocked cars,” the port official warned.

Before Russia’s invasion of Belgian car exports were a significant source of trade between the two nations. In 2017-2019, Belgium exported an average of €2.6 billion to Russia, according to statistics from the National Bank of Belgium.

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According to the International Car Operators terminal, a potential market of over 120,000 car exports could be lost due to sanctions against Russia.

Situation is static

“The situation is probably not going to get better anytime soon,” Adriansens warned, “which is why we are looking for alternative markets.”

Since the implementation of sanctions against Russia, Belgian customs authorities have searched over 23,191 containers at Belgium's ports to ensure compliance with international sanctions on Russia.

Three containers loaded with luxury goods bound for Russia have already been seized.

Belgian financial authorities have also blocked a staggering €197 billion in Russian financial transactions through Belgian banks as part of an effort to limit Russia from international financial markets.

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