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Shanghai container port still the busiest, but gap with Singapore narrows

THE port of Shanghai has maintained its position as the world's largest container port, but new statistics from Alphaliner show its lead over second-placed Singapore narrowed last year

Shanghai container port still the busiest, but gap with Singapore narrows

THE port of Shanghai has maintained its position as the world's largest container port, but new statistics from Alphaliner show its lead over second-placed Singapore narrowed last year

11 April 2019 - 19:00

THE port of Shanghai has maintained its position as the world's largest container port, but new statistics from Alphaliner show its lead over second-placed Singapore narrowed last year.

Shanghai's box throughput in 2018 totalled 42.01 million TEU, a 4.4 per cent growth on 2017, while Singapore handled 36.6 million TEU, representing growth of 8.7 per cent.



The 5.41 million TEU differential between the two ports was narrower than the 6.56 million TEU difference this time last year.



Singapore's 2.93 million TEU gain last year made it the largest-growing port globally, in terms of volumes, although Shanghai's 1.78 million TEU gain puts it in second place in that sub-list, reports The Loadstar of UK.



According to Alphaliner, together the world's largest 120 box ports handled 654 million TEU last year, an increase of 4.9 per cent on 2017, which was broadly in line with analysts'consensus.



Of those, 104 ports saw volumes grow, while 16 saw declines - and there were some high-losers among them.



Hong Kong saw the largest decline in volumes, down 1.1 million TEU over the year, dropping from fifth to seventh place in the top 120 as it posted a 56.7 per cent fall to finish the year with 19.6 million TEU throughput, prompting its major terminal operators to form an alliance to try and arrest further declines.



DP World's flagship Dubai facility also saw volumes decline, by 2.7 per cent, and with an annual throughput of 14.95 million TEU, it fell out of the top 10 to eleventh place - overtaken by the northern Chinese port of Tianjin.



Other ports which saw large losses included other high-profile transshipment hubs: Panama's Pacific hub of Balboa continued to see fall-out from the Panama Canal expansion as larger vessels now able to transit the canal bypassed it as volumes declined 29.3 per cent, losing around 850,000 TEU, to end the year at 2.05 million TEU; Oman's Salalah lost 560,000 TEU, representing 14.2 per cent of its previous year's volumes; Dubai rival Khor Fakkan dropped 13.8 per cent to end the year at an estimated 2 million TEU; while Gioia Tauro lost 4.9 per cent of its volume, equating to 120,000 TEU.



The two largest gateway ports to see volume declines were the Iranian hub of Bandar Abbas, where new sanctions had the catastrophic effect of cutting to 600,000 TEU, or 22.4 per cent; and the UK's Felixstowe, whose well-publicised IT transformation project resulted in an estimated loss of some 360,000 TEU, representing 8.7 per cent of the previous year's total.



And Felixstowe's loss was London's gain, where scores of ad hoc calls were handled and which recorded a 23.2 per cent increase in volumes to an estimated 1.7 million TEU.



Three ports, Beirut, Puerto Limon and Dandong, fell out of the top 120 last year, and were replaced by Buenaventura, Lome and Jinzhou.


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