China trade was definitely hopping in the Year of the Hare. Asia’s largest economy, underscoring its manufacturing power, is home to 13 ports (including Hong Kong) in The Journal of Commerce’s ranking of Top 50 World Container Ports for 2011.
Even more staggering, those 13 ports accounted for more than 40 percent of the 397 million TEUs of cargo moving through the Top 50.
With 15 ranked ports, the rest of Asia held a 29.8 percent share of total Top 50 volume. Europe had eight ports, accounting for 12.5 percent; the Middle East, five ports with a 6.6 percent share; North America, five ports at 12.5 percent; Central and South America, three ports and 2.4 percent; and Africa, two ports representing 1.7 percent.
Top-ranked Shanghai, one of six Chinese ports in the Top 10, outdueled Singapore for the second consecutive year. The Southeast Asian transshipment and bunker hub topped the list for five years through 2009.
Shanghai handled 15.9 million TEUs in the first half of this year, up 3.7 percent year-over-year. The growth rate represents a significant slowing from the 9.3 percent growth in 2011 that took China’s largest port to more than 31.7 million TEUs.
That largely reflects China’s manufacturing shift to the nation’s heartland, where the country invested in port and freight infrastructure even as the world around it was crumbling during the 2008-09 recession. The trend is underscored by the rapid growth in China’s northern ports, especially Tianjin, up 14.1 percent to nearly 11.6 million TEUs (good for No. 11 on the Top 50); and 20th-ranked Dalian, up more than 22 percent to 6.4 million TEUs.
Other Chinese ports showing strong growth were Shanghai neighbor Ningbo-Zhoushan, No. 6 with 11.7 percent growth; seventh-ranked Guangzhou (up 13.4 percent); No. 8 Qingdao in the east (8.9 percent); 19th ranked Xiamen (10.9 percent); No. 26 eastern Lianyungung (25.3 percent); No. 28 river port Suzhou (28.6 percent); and No. 33 northeast Yingkou (20.8 percent).
Third-ranked Hong Kong, by contrast, had 2.9 percent growth; No. 4 Shenzhen inched ahead 0.3 percent; and No. 45 river port Foshan in the Pearl River Delta was off 3.6 percent year-over-year.
Data (PDF): The JOC Top 50 World Container Ports .
Beyond China, the numbers also underscore Asia’s pre-eminent role in global trade. Asian ports claimed 28 spots in the JOC Top 50, and accounted for 70.5 percent of the Top 50’s total volume.
North America placed just five ports in the Top 50, three on the West Coast: No. 16 Los Angeles, with 7.9 million TEUs; neighboring Long Beach, No. 21 with 6.1 million TEUs; and No. 50 Port Metro Vancouver with 2.5 million TEUs. On the East Coast, New York-New Jersey’s 5.5 million TEUs earned it the 25th spot, while Georgia’s ports took 44nd place, with 2.9 million TEUs. Combined, Los Angeles-Long Beach’s 14 million TEUs would put the San Pedro ports eighth on the list, although with less than half of top-ranked Shanghai’s throughput.
Four ports are in contention to crack the list in the next year or two as they narrowly missed the list in 2011. St. Petersburg, Russia’s 2.37 million TEUs were up 22.6 percent year-over-year, and the port surely will benefit from Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organization.
Malta’s Port of Marsaxlokk tallied 2.36 million TEUs, and Maersk Line, the world’s largest container carrier, just moved there from its previous Gioia Tauro, Italy, hub. Oakland, with 2.34 million TEUs, is in strong geographic position to harvest exports from the U.S. heartland, and Morocco’s Port of Tangier-Med, situated at the Africa-Europe crossroads, is situated to build on its 2 million TEUs with rapidly growing African trade.
Contact Marsha Salisbury at email@example.com.