China’s Shanghai port took the title of the world’s best-connected port, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 2019 ranking, released on August 7.
The Chinese port garnered a connectivity score of 134 points, followed by the ports of Singapore with 124.63 points, Pusan in Korea with 114.45 points and China’s Ningbo with 114.35 points. 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, Sirimanne added.
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, according to the report.
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.”