Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium and the second most important consumer market in the country after Brussels. With 60% of all European consumers located within a 500km radius, the port of Antwerp plays a significant part in Belgium's economy serving as Europe's second biggest port, handling 214 million tonnes of freight in 2016. As Belgium's most important logistical centre, Antwerp generated a total GDP of USD67 billion in 2016, accounting for 14% of the country's total GDP.
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The port area in Antwerp is one of the largest in the world, covering over 12,000ha. The city derives its economic strength from years of investment in infrastructure and industrial clusters, which closely relate to the port's activity. Malt, chemical and diamond industries are the most prominent in Antwerp. This has translated into labour productivity levels 13% higher than in the rest of Belgium.
Annual average disposable income in Antwerp was 2.5% greater than the rest of the country in 2016. Households in Brussels also marginally trailed behind Antwerp's disposable income (USD54,800 disposable income per household in Antwerp versus USD54,400 in Brussels). However, income decreased by 3.4% at constant 2016 prices between 2011 and 2016 in Antwerp.
Higher average disposable income resulted in higher consumer discretionary spending in Antwerp. Consumer spending per household was 1.4% higher (excluding housing and transport) in Antwerp, compared with the rest of Belgium, as of 2016. The more prominent categories of expenditure in Antwerp were education (44% bigger expenditure in Antwerp than in the rest of the country) and clothing (13%).
Measured per household in 2016, consumer expenditure on transport and housing in Antwerp was 8% higher when compared to the rest of the country. The difference stems from the fact that a great proportion of households possess a passenger car and three districts of Antwerp have the most expensive real estate in all of Flanders. Despite the advantage in disposable income, Antwerp appears a relatively unaffordable city.