The World’s Top 5 Busiest Ports

Amber Pittard, October 24, 2017

The International Maritime Organization estimates that Maritime transport accounts for over 90% of the world’s trade, over 70% of which is containerized cargo. It is by far the most cost effective way to move large volumes of goods globally.

Research shows the industry continues to grow and the amount of goods moved is increasing annually. Over 120 million containers are moved across the world per year and that figure continues to rise! So which ports are handling the highest volumes of Cargo TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent unit)?

5th busiest port: Hong Kong

The Maritime Herald reports “Container turnover of the port of Hong Kong increased by 12.6% in Q1 2017”. Currently handling just under 21 million TEU per year, Hong Kong comes in at number 5 on the list. The Port of Hong Kong has been the world’s busiest container port many times before, in 1987 to 1989, from 1992 to 1997, and from 1999 to 2004.

4th busiest port: Ningbo-Zhoushan

Closely ranked above Hong Kong with over 20.5 million TEUs per year is the port of Ningbo-Zhoushan in China, which continues to grow its volume of incoming container loads

3rd busiest port: Shenzhen

Number 3 on the list is Shenzhen, coming in at a very respectable 25 million TEU… however its operations are still dwarfed by several other major ports.

2nd busiest port: Singapore

Recently Singapore Port has welcomed over 32 million TEU of containerized cargo. From 2004 until 2009, the Port of Singapore held the title for the busiest port in the world however was surpassed by Shanghai in 2010 and since then has not been able to regain 1st place. 

Since 2000, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has been majorly renovating and extending Pasir Panjang Terminal. There are also plans to open a new port named Tuas, which is said to be completed by 2040, it allow the port to handle around 65 million standard-sized containers per year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned; “The Tuas mega port will strengthen our international maritime hub. We must do all we can to keep the path ahead smooth sailing!” It seems that Singapore remains very much in the running for the competitive title of World’s busiest port.

1st place: Shanghai

Shanghai tops the list of the world’s busiest port with an impressive volume of containers at over 36 million TEU. Shanghai receives over 2,000 container ships per month (14,000 per year) and the port currently accounts for a quarter of China’s total foreign trade.

It is no surprise that 5 out of 5 busiest ports in the world are in Asia, given the volume of goods produced in this region. Likewise the fact that the number 1 busiest port is China based is predictable given that with a massive population of 1.3 billion, China is the second largest economy and manufacturer behind the US. For over 7 years the Port of Shanghai has been able to take the lead when it comes to container traffic however the expansion plans of international ports means competition to be the next ‘world’s busiest port’ is fierce. 

Written by Amber Pittard - Global Account Manager at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd

Posted in categories: Cargo, Imports, International, Jobs, Shipping
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