Apr 23, 2022 - Economy

Thousands of Russia-bound luxury cars blocked from leaving port

Illustration picture shows the naval base in Zeebrugge, Thursday 21 April 2022.

A scene from Zeebrugge in Belgium this week. Photo: Kurt Desplenter/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images

Luxury cars are among 8,000 new vehicles stranded at Belgium's Port of Zeebrugge due to European Union sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Why it matters: The stranding of Russia-bound vehicles including Cadillac, Mercedes and Lexus models, since the start of April highlights "confusion at key European ports over how to interpret and enforce sanctions" against the country, per the WSJ.

  • Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary-general of the European Sea Ports Organization, told the outlet that supply chains were "already massively disrupted," as ports struggle to cope with huge cargo volumes from pandemic-hit economies reopening. Delays "to check which ships and what products are banned adds to the strain," Ryckbost added.

Details: Marc Adriansens, director of the port's International Car Operators (ICO) terminal, told the Brussels Times about half of the vehicles stuck in Zeebrugge under the EU export ban on luxury goods to Russia were luxury vehicles.

  • "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," Adriansens added.
  • Adriansens told Euronews that customs officials told the port the vehicles could not leave the area and he did not know how long they would remain there.

Worth noting: While buyers have been shunning Russian energy, Russia's oil and gas exports have not been banned in Europe.

The bottom line: "The cars are a problem, but as long as gas keeps moving, I think Zeebrugge will be OK," Adriansens told the WSJ. "But if those cargoes from Russia stop, the port will be in trouble."

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