Shanghai rated world's best-connected port

Port of Shanghai The Port of Shanghai garnered a connectivity score of 134 points in UNCTAD’s port Liner Shipping Connectivity Index. Image: Alex Needham

A Chinese port has topped the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 2019 ranking of the world’s best-connected ports.

The Port of Shanghai garnered a connectivity score of 134 points in UNCTAD’s port Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (port LSCI), followed by the ports of Singapore (124.63 points), Pusan (114.45 points) in Korea and Ningbo (114.35 points), also in China. The index is set at 100 for the best-connected port in 2006, which was Hong Kong, China.

Besides the Asian ports, the other ports on the top 10 list are those of Antwerp (94 points) in Belgium and Rotterdam (93 points) in the Netherlands. None of the ports in the top 20 list are from Africa, Latin America, North America or Australasia.

“A container port’s performance is a critical factor that can determine transport costs and, by extension, trade competitiveness,” said UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne.

Efficient and well-connected container ports enabled by frequent and direct shipping services are key to minimizing trade costs and fostering sustainable development, Ms. Sirimanne said.

UNCTAD’s port LSCI dataset enables businesses and governments to determine maritime transport trends and their ports’ positions compared to others.

The port LSCI, which now provides data on more than 900 ports dating back to 2006, is generated using the same methodology as that for the recently released country-level LSCI produced by UNCTAD in collaboration with MDSTransmodal.

The 2019 port LSCI shows that the expanded Panama Canal has led to shifts in patterns of services.

The data also indicates that the LSCI of New York/New Jersey and Savannah on the east coast of North America grew by more than 20% since 2016, while the leading ports on the west coast saw their LSCI stagnate.

The data further reveals that investments by shipping lines can attract additional services. Piraeus (Greece), operated by COSCO from China, for example, has become the best-connected port in the Mediterranean in 2019.

In Africa, both geography and port reforms emerged as critical factors. The best-connected countries in Africa are those at its corners – Morocco, Egypt and South Africa.

Western Africa has relatively low connectivity because it doesn’t lie at the crossroads of major north-south or east-west shipping routes.

Mombasa (Kenya) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) connect Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to overseas markets through dedicated corridors, but they remain highly congested.

Low connectivity makes merchandize trade costly and uncompetitive. Many small island developing states (SIDS) face a vicious cycle where low trade volumes discourage investments in better maritime transport connectivity.

The Pacific Islands are among those with the lowest shipping connectivity. For example, Port Vila (Vanuatu) receives about one container ship every three days, the data shows.

In Kiribati, there is only one operator offering regular liner shipping services, with one ship arriving about every 10 days.

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