Growth accelerates at top global ports

Growth accelerates at top global ports

Shanghai, China.

Growth accelerated at eight of the Top 10 global ports in 2017, and the number of ports that recorded volume declines halved compared with 2016. Without question, a strong trade environment defined 2017. (Above: Shanghai, China.) Photo credit:

Growth accelerated at eight of the Top 10 global ports in 2017, and the number of ports on the JOC’s Top 50 Global Container Ports ranking that recorded volume declines halved compared with 2016. This reflected the strong trade environment that defined last year.

Shanghai extended its run as the world’s busiest port for an eighth year as it broke 40 million TEU for the first time and throughput rose 8.3 percent. The Top 10 ports of 2017 hold the same positions they did in 2016, thanks to nearly uniform growth among those most likely to move up or down.

For example, Hong Kong and Busan each grew more than 5 percent in 2017, keeping them at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, in the rankings. Last year was the first year since 2011 that Hong Kong saw growth in volume.

Those ports that posted declines in 2017 were mostly transshipment hubs coping with carrier network adjustments resulting from the launch of new vessel-sharing agreements in April 2017 and ongoing industry consolidation. In 2017 consolidations included Hapag-Lloyd sealing its merger with United Arab Shipping Co., Maersk Line’s acquisition of Hamburg Sud, and Cosco Shipping’s acquisition of OOCL for $6.3 billion.

Although those at the top of the rankings were mostly static, the transshipment hub of Port Klang, Malaysia, slipped to No. 12 from No. 11 in 2016, as volume declined 9.2 percent to 11.98 million TEU. Port Klang’s decline allowed Rotterdam to ride its 10.7 percent growth to 13.73 million TEU to the No. 11 spot. The Mediterranean transshipment hub of Algeciras in Spain fell four places to No. 36 as traffic declined 7.8 percent to 4.39 million TEU.

A 1.8 percent decline at No. 15 Kaohsiung in Taiwan to 10.27 million TEU allowed Antwerp to inch up one spot on the back of 4.1 percent growth 10.45 million TEU to No. 13, and let Xiamen creep up to No. 14 as traffic there rose 8.1 percent to 10.38 million TEU.

Dalian traffic declined 3 percent to 9.7 million TEU, putting the port in the No. 16 slot.

Port of Los Angeles — the only US mover

Los Angeles was the only US port to make any movement in the rankings, creeping up one spot to No. 17 as a result of 6.1 percent volume growth to 9.34 million TEU. Traffic at Hamburg slipped 0.4 percent to 8.86 million TEU, pushing Germany’s top port to No. 18.

The most dramatic movement took place in the middle and at the bottom of the rankings. Particularly the bottom, where No. 46 Tanger Med and No. 47 Vancouver returned to the list thanks to double-digit growth at both, allowing them to replace Nanjing, China, and Balboa, Panama, on the rankings.

Traffic at Tanger Med, a key Mediterranean transshipment rose 11.8 percent to 3.31 million TEU as the port benefited from revamped carrier networks, while volume at Vancouver jumped 10.9 percent to 3.25 million TEU as shippers using the Pacific Northwest ports to access US markets continue to favor the Canadian gateways over the Northwest Seaport Alliance of Seattle and Tacoma.

The surge by Tanger Med and Vancouver pushed Colon, Panama, from No. 46 to No. 49, as volume at that port fell 2.1 percent last year to 3.19 million TEU. Rizhao, where volume rose 7 percent to 3.22 million TEU, inched up to 48th from 49th, while Marsaxlockk in Malta fell to No. 50 from No. 47 despite a 2.3 percent increase in volume to 3.15 million TEU.

No. 42 Santos gained one spot as volume at South America’s largest port rose 6.9 percent to 3.85 million TEU, rebounding from the worst recession in the country’s history. No. 35 Hai Phong gained three spots from last year, with volume up 8.5 percent to 4.45 million TEU.  

The JOC Top 50 World Container Ports

Global port throughput, 2016 versus 2017, in millions of TEU
RankPortCountry201720162016-2017 %
Volume Change
WebsiteNotes port is supported by three areas: Wusongkou, Waigaoqiao and the deep-water Yangshan. Gateway port for the Yangtze River Delta.
2Singapore Singapore33.6730.909.0%www.singaporepsa.comWorld's busiest transshipment hub. PSA's global terminal operations, including Singapore, handled 74.2 million TEU in 2017 with 33.4 million TEUs by flagship PSA Singapore and 40.9 million TEU overseas.
3ShenzhenChina25.2123.975.2%www.szport.netAdjacent to Hong Kong and south of the Pearl River Delta in China’s Guangdong Province. Wal-Mart has its Asian headquarters and global procurement center in the special economic zone. Shenzhen includes Da Chan Bay, Yantian, Chiwan, and Shekou. and south of Shanghai, in the Yangtze River Delta in Zhejiang province. Port operator Ningbo Port Group Co. is on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Ningbo offers regularly scheduled intermodal rail service to the hinterlands.
5Hong Kong Kong held top rank from 1999 to 2004 and was ousted from fourth place in 2015 rankings by Ningbo-Zhoushan.
6BusanSouth Korea20.4719.455.2%www.busanpa.comSouth Korea's top port serves Northeast Asia as a transshipment hub and its volumes proved resilient following the collapse of Hanjin Shipping in 2016.
7GuangzhouChina20.3718.907.8%www.gzport.comSouth China port at the estuary of the Pearl River in Guangdong province, near Hong Kong and Macau. Comprehensive port includes Nansha, Xinsha, Huangpu, and Inner Harbor areas. Direct Taiwan service.
8QingdaoChina18.3018.001.7%www.qdport.comInternational transshipment and reefer specialty port located in the Shandong province in the Yellow River basin in eastern China.
9Jebel Ali UAE15.3714.774.1%www.dpworld.comDubai is parent DP World's flagship facility. Globally, DP World handled 70.1 million TEU in 2017 across is nearly 80 marine and inland terminals.
10TianjinChina15.0714.494.0%www.tianjinportdev.comThe largest port in North China is on the Haibe River Estuary, Bohai Bay, and serves 11 northern provinces and Mongolia.
11RotterdamNetherlands13.7312.4010.7%www.portofrotterdam.comEurope's largest container port by TEU volume grew 20 percent in land when the seawall at Maasvlakte 2 in the North Sea was completed.
12Port the industrial west coast, the busiest Malaysian container port is a national load center and regional hub.
13AntwerpBelgium10.4510.044.1%www.portofantwerp.comLandlord port on the River Scheldt broke 10 million TEU for the first time in 2016 and continues to close its gap with Rotterdam and expand its lead over Hamburg.
14Xiamen port on the Jiulongjiang River estuary in the Fujian Province is the closest mainland port to Taiwan and positioned for cross-straits trade. Opened to FDI in the 1980s. XIPC was the first port operator stock listing in Hong Kong. southwestern coast port city is the largest city in southern Taiwan and has direct cross-strait shipping opportunities with mainland China.
16DalianChina9.7010.00-3.0%www.dlport.cnAt entrance of Bohai Bay, the northeastern Liaoning province deep-water port is listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges. The group also owns the largest oil storage base in China and operates many oil/liquefied chemical berths.
17Los AngelesUS9.348.806.1%www.portoflosangeles.orgThe Los Angeles and Long Beach combined volume of 16.9 million TEU would rank No. 9 in 2017, up from No. 9 in 2016.
18HamburgGermany8.868.90-0.4%www.hafen-hamburg.deThe port rail hub is the largest rail container-handling facility in Europe. More than 1,100 international and domestic rail connections serve the port weekly.
19Tanjung the straits of Johor, just north of Singapore, it is the second-largest container port in Malaysia. Began its operations in early 2000 as alternative to Singapore. Maersk and Evergreen pioneered the port as a primary Southeast Asia hub.
20Keihin's superport hub on Tokyo Bay unifies Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Tokyo, Japan's largest container port.
21Laem ChabangThailand7.787.208.1%www.laemchabangport.comEastern Thai landlord port seeks Southeast Asia hub status as deep-water port serving super post-Panamax vessels.
22Long BeachUS7.546.8010.9%www.polb.comSecond-busiest US container port after Los Angeles.
23New York and New JerseyUS6.716.257.4%www.panynj.govA landlord port and North America's busiest East Coast port. The port in 2017 completed raising the Bayonne Bridge roadway to add air draft to allow ships of up to 14,000 TEU to call the port.
24Tanjung Port Holdings operates the Jakarta International Container Terminal, currently the largest container terminal in Indonesia. the middle of the Liaondong Peninsula, port includes the Yingkou Old Port and Bayuquan New Port that is close to the sea from both inner Mongolia and Northeast China. Cosco Pacific in joint venture container terminal with the port authority.
26ColomboSri Lanka6.215.708.9%www.slpa.lkA joint venture with China Merchants garners the port a 15 percent share in the first terminal in South Harbor, the Colombo International Container Terminal, under 35-year BOT terms.
27Ho Chi Minth City/Cai retailers source consumer goods with carriers offering direct US sailings. Under government orders, the industry is continuing to move congested urban HCMC/Saigon terminal facilities to facilitate overall southern gateway port network systems. In Jiangsu province, on lower Yangtze River. Cluster includes Zhangjiagang, Changshu, and Taicang.
29Bremen/BremerhavenGermany5.515.490.4%www.bremenports.deBremen-Bremerhaven and Lower Saxony share ownership and management of JadeWeserPort, the only German deep-water port.
30Hanshin's Hanshin superport hub on Osaka Bay unifies Kobe, Osaka, and Sakai-Senboku under the Kobe-Osaka International Port Corp.
31ValenciaSpain4.834.663.6%www.valenciaport.comHighest container traffic in Spain. Includes Valencia, Sagunto and Gandia ports. Seeks to be the main deep-sea gateway on the Iberian peninsula for the Americas and the Far East. won the Manila International Container Terminal 25+25 concession in 1988 — the first privatization of a Philippines port. The first Subic Bay Freeport container terminal opened from the private sector is operated by a unit of ICTSI and helps allieviate Manila conjestion while serving post-Panamax ships. eastern coastal Jiangsu province. The Longhai Railway starts at Lianyungang, and connects through Russia to Europe along the Belt and Road initiative.
34Jawaharlal Nehru Port state-owned port trust on India's west coast. Port terminals, include JN Port terminal, two adjacent DP World terminals, a Gateway Terminal-majority owned by APM Terminals. PSA International opened a new terminal in 2017.
35Hai Phong, located on the East Sea coast, is the largest port in north Vietnam.
36AlgecirasSpain4.394.76-7.8%www.apba.esNear Gibraltar, Algeciras is central to both east-west and north-south trade lanes and Suez Canal users. South is the UK's first deep-water port container terminal and the first UK port to handle more than 1 million TEU by rail. The largest UK container port is a member of Hutchison Ports as are nearby London Thamesport and Harwich.
38JeddahSaudi majority of Saudi Arabian container throughput goes through this Red Sea coastal port. The port facilities are privatized. Gulftainer operates the Northern Container Terminal in Jeddah as well as other global terminals, including in the Americas. Cosco Pacific-owned port is seen as a critical link in China's Belt and Road.
40SavannahUS4.053.6411.1%www.gaports.comSecond-busiest US East Coast container port is working to deepen its harbor and expand on-dock rail operations.
41MundraIndia3.984.80-17.1%www.adaniports.comHome to India's largest special economic zone, Mundra is operated by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone and recently expanded capacity to 6 million TEU annually's largest container port has opened several new terminals in the last few years. Growth resumed this year after a contraction in 2016 due to the worst recession in the country's history.
43SharjahUAE3.804.00-5.0%www.sharjahports.aeGulftainer is a privately owned independent port operator based in the United Arab Emirates and works on behalf of the port authority for the Sharjah, Port Khalid, Khorfakkan container terminals/inland container and warehousing depot. Among its global portfolio, it has a 35-year Port Canaveral cargo terminal concession.
44Northwest Seaport AllianceUS3.703.622.4%www.nwseaportalliance.comSeattle and Tacoma formed the Northwest Seaport Alliance in 2015 in order to rationalize capacity and better compete with Canadian rivals.
45Tanjung Surabaya, East Java, it is the second-largest container port in Indonesia after Tanjung Priok, Jakarta.
46Tanger MedMorocco3.312.9611.8%www.tmpa.maThis key transshipment hub will gain 6 million TEU of new capacity when APM Terminals new facility opens in 2019.
47VancouverCanada3.252.9310.9%www.portvancouver.comCurrently working towards a new container terminal at Roberts Bank with 2.4 million TEU of capacity.
48RizhaoChina3.223.017.0%www.en.rzport.comHome to four container terminals, the port has more than 30 international trade routes, including Asia-Europe rail.
49ColonPanama3.193.26-2.1%www.amp.gob.paOn the Gulf of Mexico end of the Panama Canal. central Mediterranean transshipment hub in Malta opened in 1988 and was privatized in 2004.
Sources:Port authorities, IHS Markit: Ports & Terminals, Alphaliner


Contact Dustin Braden at and follow him on Twitter: @dbraden38.


Top 50 Global Container Ports