Mixed fortunes but generally world's top 20 container ports achieve growth

SHANGHAI has managed to retain the title of world's busiest sea port for containers, after handling 42 million TEU in 2018, however, its annual growth rate slowed from 8

23 August 2019 - 19:00
SHANGHAI has managed to retain the title of world's busiest sea port for containers, after handling 42 million TEU in 2018, however, its annual growth rate slowed from 8.3 per cent in 2017 to 4.4 per cent last year, on the back of weak domestic container growth.

From January to November 2017, Shanghai's domestic container trade surged by 16.7 per cent, compared to just 3.4 per cent in 2018. International trade growth looks likely to remain steady as the port continues to build up its links along the Yangtze River as part of its strategy to increase inland waterways traffic, reported Hellenic Shipping News/Riviera.

Singapore is still in second place, after handling 36.6 million TEU in 2018, representing year-on-year growth of 8.7 per cent. Highlights over the year include PSA Singapore forming a joint venture terminal with Ocean Network Express (ONE), and CMA CGM's Ze Box and PSA unboXed signing a memorandum of understanding to work on digitalisation projects.

Ningbo has jumped from fourth to third place, overtaking Shenzhen with volumes of 26.35 million TEU in 2018, up 7.1 per cent compared to 2017. The port has won numerous new services and upgraded its rail network, pushing up container volumes. It opened nine sea-rail links last year.

Shenzhen now takes fourth place after seeing container throughput in 2018 rise 2.1 per cent year on year to 25.7 million TEU. The port plans to expand its volumes by becoming a free trade port by the end of 2020, and also aims to reduce cargo customs clearance times by one-third by 2020, through streamlining procedures and removing trade restrictions.

Guangzhou's main container port of Nansha has jumped from seventh place to fifth. It handled 27.87 million TEU in 2018, representing a rise of 7.4 per cent compared to 2017. Nansha is boosting its fast growth through tapping into the Belt and Road initiative and expanding its rail infrastructure.

Busan remains in the number six spot, having handled 21.66 million TEU in 2018, up 5.7 per cent compared to 2017. The port is focused on boosting its transshipment cargo volumes and is also enhancing its efficiency by implementing CyberLogitec's integrated terminal operating system, OPUS Terminal.

Hong Kong slid into seventh place from fifth after suffering a cargo decrease of 5.7 per cent, down to 19.6 million TEU. Earlier this year, four of the port's terminal operators entered into a Hong Kong Seaport Joint Operating Alliance Agreement. The co-operation is expected to create more capacity by increasing the flexibility in berth and yard planning by using a common terminal operating system.

The Bohai Bay port remains at number eight, with 19.32 million TEU, up 5.5 per cent compared to 2017. The port intends to capitalise on China's Belt and Road initiative.

In 2018 the combined container volumes of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rose by 3.9 per cent year on year to 17.55 million TEU, placing the port complex in ninth position. Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero explained: 'We have had a good domestic economy in the last couple of years and the global economy is fairly good - when both economies are at a very good pace, that brings resiliency to the international trade.'

China's Tianjin port has overtaken Dubai to reach tenth place, following a container throughput surge of 6.2 per cent to reach 16.01 million TEU in 2018. Its priorities are developing its container business, strengthening efforts in route development, enhancing capacity, expanding transshipment capacity, and increasing the cargo volume of Bohai Rim feeder ships. It is also capitalising on Beijing's Belt and Road initiative.

In 11th place, DP World's Dubai port saw its volumes fall by 2.7 per cent to 14.95 million TEU in 2018. The port operator has invested US$836 million in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, focusing on capacity expansions at Dubai's flagship Jebel Ali port, Jebel Ali free zone and London Gateway (UK).

The port of Rotterdam achieved 14.5 million TEU in 2018, up 5.7 per cent compared to 2017, to clinch 12th place. A major strategy for the port is boosting the productivity and efficiency of its container terminals' operations with a strong digitalisation strategy, including the use of internet of things (IoT) technologies. It is partnering with IBM on the IoT initiative.

At number 13 is Malaysia's Port Klang, which saw its 2018 volumes rise by 2.8 per cent to reach 12.3 million TEU. It lost out after CMA CGM acquired APL in 2016, which resulted in the Ocean Alliance shifting volumes from Port Klang to Singapore. Yet, the port's intra-Asia volumes have been growing steadily.

In 14th spot is the port of Antwerp which achieved a 6.2 per cent year-on-year increase in its box volumes, hitting 11.1 million TEU in 2018. Antwerp Port Authority director Luc Arnouts attributed the growth to ship size and the subsequent rise in demand. Another factor behind its volume growth were the launch of two new services on the east-west tradelane where it is the first port of call.

Xiamen port's volumes were up 3.1 per cent in 2018 to stand at 10.7 million TEU, placing the trade gateway in 15th place. The port has been expanding over the past few years. In 2010, Xiamen port incorporated the neighbouring port of Zhangzhou to form the largest port in southeast China.

In 16th place is Taiwan's port of Kaohsiung. Its volumes rose 1.7 per cent in 2018 to reach 10.45 million TEU. Its major focus is on building more deepwater ports because 'effectively meeting the needs of the largest containerships will be key to Kaohsiung port maintaining and expanding its role as an international transshipment centre.'

In 17th spot is Dalian. Its volumes inched up 0.6 per cent to 9.77 million TEU last year. As the US is its fourth-largest export market, it has been affected by the US-China trade war. Dalian is now the go-between for Japanese and South Korean exports to Russia, eastern Europe and central Asia. In June, China Merchants Port Holdings raised its stake in Liaoning Port Group, which controls three ports including Dalian, to 51 per cent. This development could boost performance levels.

Malaysia's largest port of Tanjung Pelepas is in 18th place, after handling 8.96 million TEU in 2018, up seven per cent year over year. This transshipment hub for southeast Asia is investing $2.1 billion to further raise the port's capacity over the next five to 15 years.

The German port of Hamburg has dropped from 18th to 19th place after volumes contracted by one per cent to 8.77 million TEU. Transshipment volumes slightly dipped, however, the port's hinterland volumes recorded growth, and is an area the port is targeting.

Hapag-Lloyd and ONE moved four transatlantic liner services from Bremerhaven to Hamburg in January this year. This is expected to raise volumes at the port by 55,000 TEU in 2019 compared to 2018. Other positive news is that port of Hamburg has been granted permission to dredge the River Elbe to boost the movement of mega ships through the port. The project will be finished in 2021.

Thailand's Laem Chabang port is in 20th place after its volumes grew by 3.7 per cent to stand at 8.07 million TEU in 2018. The port expanded its container operations last year when Hutchison Ports Thailand opened its $600 million terminal - its third at the port. The new terminal will help boost transshipment traffic as the facility could drive a 40 per cent capacity increase in vessels calling at the port.

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