Luxury cars bound for Russia blocked at Zeebrugge port due to sanctions

The luxury cars are among 8,000 new vehicles stranded at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge due to European Union sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, the the wall street journal reported Saturday.

Why is this important: The stranding of vehicles bound for Russia, including Cadillac, Mercedes and Lexus models, since early April highlights ‘confusion in key European ports over how to interpret and apply sanctions’ against the country, according to the WSJ.

  • Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary general of the European Seaports Organisation, told the outlet that supply chains were “already massively disrupted”, as ports struggle to cope with the huge volumes of cargo coming in from the reopening of economies affected by the pandemic. Delays “to verify which ships and products are banned add to the pressure,” Ryckbost added.

Details: Marc Adriansens, director of the port’s ICO (International Car Operators) terminal, told the Brussels timetables around half of vehicles stuck in Zeebrugge as part of the EU export ban on luxury goods to Russia were luxury vehicles.

  • “We can accommodate up to 10,000 vehicles here, so there is room, but we won’t be able to fill the port with all these stuck cars,” Adriansens added.
  • Adriansens told Euronews that the customs officers told the port that the vehicles could not leave the area and that he did not know how long they would remain there.

To note: While buyers shun Russian energy, Russian oil and gas exports have not been banned in Europe.

The bottom line: “Cars are a problem, but as long as the gas keeps flowing, I think Zeebrugge will be fine,” Adriansens told the WSJ. “But if these shipments from Russia stop, the port will be in trouble.”

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