Shanghai widens TEU lead over No. 2 world port Singapore

Shanghai widens TEU lead over No. 2 world port Singapore

China’s largest port is also the world’s largest, opening a 5.6 million-TEU gap over No. 2 Singapore in 2015.

Shanghai toppled Singapore for the No. 1 spot in the JOC Top 50 container port rankings six years ago and hasn’t looked back, extending its spread over the world’s second-largest container hub to 5.6 million twenty-foot-equivalent units in 2015.

Singapore, Southeast Asia’s dominant transshipment hub, previously led the rankings for five years after dethroning Hong Kong in 2005. With Shenzhen having a firm grasp as the world’s third-largest port, Hong Kong, just an hour south and struggling with high costs, slipped behind Ningbo-Zhoushan to fifth. No. 6 Busan, South Korea, meanwhile, is closing the gap with Hong Kong.

Nine of the Top 10 world container ports, and 28 of the Top 50, are Asian ports.

The Middle East’s largest container port, Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, again cracked the Top 10 as the ninth-largest port in terms of volume, handling 15.6 million TEUs in 2015. Jebel Ali is the flagship facility of parent DP World, a global terminal operator that handled 61.7 million TEUs worldwide in 2015.

Combined, the adjacent Southern California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the United States’ two largest, would rank 10th on the JOC Top 50, with nearly 15.4 million TEUs, more than 1.2 million TEUs ahead of Tianjin, China.

Rotterdam, Europe’s largest container port, was the 11th-largest port in 2015, handling 12.2 million TEUs. Now that its Maasvlakte 2 terminal is operational, the port is partnering with Indonesian Port Corp.’s Penlindo I in a port development project to replicate Rotterdam in a new deep-sea port at Kuala Tanjung, located on an islet of reclaimed land near Medan in the Strait of Malacca.

Five U.S. ports made the Top 50, together handling 29 million TEUs in 2015. In context, that aggregate volume would fall between the throughput of second-ranked Singapore and third-ranked Shenzhen. In addition to Los Angeles and Long Beach, New York-New Jersey, with 6.4 million TEUs; Savannah, 3.7 million; and The Northwest Seaport Alliance of Seattle-Tacoma, with 3.5 million made the list. The top three U.S. ports below the Top 50 cutoff and above 2 million TEUs in 2015 throughput were Virginia, Oakland, and Houston. 

The 28 Asian ports on the Top 50 list matched the 0.9 percent year-over-year growth rate of the Top 50 ports overall. Within Asia, the top 12 ports in mainland China and Hong Kong altogether achieved 1.7 percent growth, although the remaining Asia ports were collectively flat, inching down 0.1 percent from 2014.

In contrast, three ports in the Middle East increased 1.4 percent year-over-year, while 10 ports in Europe declined 1.5 percent. The nine ports in the Americas were 4.1 percent above their 2014 results. Carving out the Americas to the five U.S. ports alone, year-over-year growth in 2015 was 4.8 percent, certainly strengthened by year-end 2014 U.S. West Coast port congestion and the many ships anchored offshore that rolled cargo over into 2015 because of port production slowdowns during protracted longshore labor talks.

Among regions, Asia led with a 72 percent share of 2015 volume among the Top 50 ports. European ports held 13.2 percent, the Americas 9.6 percent, and the Middle East trailed with a 5.2 percent market share.

With its sheer port volumes and consumer goods production, mainland China is often a leading indicator. The table to the left extracts the top 10 mainland China ports, in 2015 versus 2014, and compares those ports in similar standing with their year-over-year first-half 2016 versus 2015 results. The takeaway from the first-half 2016 results of the top 10 mainland China ports, not including Hong Kong, is 1.5 percent year-over-year growth, significantly slowing from their 3.4 percent growth in all of 2015.  

Contact Marsha Salisbury at and follow her on Twitter @MarshSalisbury.


The JOC Top 50 World Container Ports
Global port throughput, 2015 vs. 2014, in millions of TEUs*
RankPortCountry201520142014-2015 %
Volume Change
1Shanghai * surged ahead of Singapore for 2015 top ranking. Shanghai port is supported by three areas — Wusongkou, Waigaoqiao and the deep-water Yangshan. Gateway port for the Yangtze River Delta.
2Singapore *
World's busiest transshipment hub. PSA's global terminal operations, including Singapore, handled 64.10 million TEUs in 2015 with 30.62 million TEUs by flagship PSA Singapore and 33.48 million TEUs overseas.
3Shenzhen *1China24.2024.040.7%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.
Nearby 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. Ousted from fourth place in 2015 rankings by Ningbo-Zhoushan.
6Busan *1South Korea19.4518.684.1%www.busanpa.comSouth Korea's top port serves Northeast Asia as a transshipment hub with over half its volume. Governmental port fee reductions introduced.
7QingdaoChina17.4716.585.3%www.qdport.comInternational transshipment and reefer specialty port located in the Shandong province in the Yellow River basin in eastern China.
8Guangzhou HarborChina17.2216.395.0%

South 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.
9Jebel Ali, Dubai *1U.A.E.15.6015.252.3%

Dubai is parent DP World's flagship facility. Globally, DP World handled 61.7 million TEUs in 2015, with a current gross capacity of 79.6 million TEUs anticipated to rise to 100 million TEUs by 2020.
10TianjinChina14.1114.060.3%www.tianjinportdev.comThe largest port in North China is on the Haibe River Estuary, Bohai Bay. The artificial port serves 11 northern provinces and Mongolia. Explosive August 2015 port warehouse fire.
11Rotterdam *1Netherlands12.2312.30-0.5%

Europe'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 Klang *1Malaysia11.8910.958.6%

On the industrial west coast, the busiest Malaysian container port is a national load center and regional hub.
13Kaohsiung *1Taiwan10.2610.59-3.1%

The southwestern coast port city is the largest city in southern Taiwan and has direct cross-strait shipping opportunities with mainland China.
14Antwerp *1Belgium9.658.987.5%www.portofantwerp.comLandlord port on the River Scheldt. Opened in June, the new left bank Kieldrecht lock at the end of the Deurganck dock provides link to the sea between the Scheldt and the Waasland Canal and all other docks on the Left Bank. Recently announced commercial (container) alliance between Antwerp and Zeebrugge.
15DalianChina9.4510.13-6.7%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. 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.
17Tanjung Pelepas * 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.
18Hamburg *1Germany8.829.73-9.3%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.
18Los AngelesU.S.8.168.34-2.2%www.portoflosangeles.orgBusiest U.S. container port, having again overtaken Long Beach. The Los Angeles and Long Beach combined volume of 15.35 million TEUs would rank No. 10 in 2015 with year-over-year 1.3 percent growth.
20Keihin ports *1Japan7.527.85-4.2%

Japan's superport hub on Tokyo Bay unifies Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Tokyo, Japan's largest container port.
21Long BeachU.S.7.196.825.4%www.polb.comSecond-busiest U.S. container port after Long Beach. The Los Angeles and Long Beach combined volume of 15.35 million TEUs would rank No. 10 in 2015 with year-over-year 1.3 percent growth.
22Laem Chabang *1Thailand6.826.583.6%

Eastern Thai landlord port seeks Southeast Asia hub status as deep-water port serving super post-Panamax vessels.
23New York-New JerseyU.S.6.375.7710.4%www.panynj.govA landlord port and North America's busiest East Coast port. Raising the Bayonne Bridge roadway air draft 64 feet to accommodate larger ships. 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.
Bremerhaven *1

Bremen-Bremerhaven and Lower Saxony share ownership and management of JadeWeserPort, the only German deep-water port.
26Ho Chi Minh City/
Cai Mep retailers source consumer goods with carriers offering direct U.S. sailings. Under government orders, the industry is continuing to move congested urban HCMC/Saigon terminal facilities to facilitate overall southern gateway port network systems.
27Tanjung Priok, JakartaIndonesia5.205.71-8.9%

Indonesia's state-owned port operator now known as IPC, Indonesia Port Corp., is in the midst of expanding its space-constrained East Java port. MOL's new offshore terminal at New Priok or Kalibaru in Jakarta opened this summer. HPH operates the nearby JICT, currently the largest container terminal in Indonesia.
28Colombo *1Sri Lanka5.194.915.7%

An island 20 miles off India's southern coast. A 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. In Jiangsu province, on lower Yangtze River. Cluster includes Zhangjiagang, Changshu, and Taicang. eastern coastal Jiangsu province. The Longhai Railway starts at Lianyungang, and connects through Russia to Europe — the new Silk Road, Asian-European continent corridor.
31Hanshin ports *'s Hanshin superport hub on Osaka Bay unifies Kobe, Osaka, and Sakai-Senboku under the Kobe-Osaka International Port Corp.
32Valencia *1Spain4.624.443.9%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.
33Algeciras Bay *1Spain4.524.56-0.9%www.apba.esNear Gibraltar, Algeciras is central to both east-west and north-south trade lanes and Suez Canal users. Hanjin Shipping's first terminal in the Mediterranean is on the Outer Isla Verde Quay.
34Jawaharlal Nehru * state-owned port trust on India's west coast. Port terminals, include JN Port terminal, two adjacent DP World terminals, and a Gateway Terminal-majority owned by APM Terminals. PSA International broke ground on its new terminal in October. 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.
36JeddahSaudi 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.
37Felixstowe *1U. K.

Felixstowe South is the U.K.'s first deep-water port container terminal. The largest U.K. container port is a member of Hutchison Ports as are nearby London Thamesport and Harwich. Alltogether HPH handled 83.8 million TEUs worldwide in 2015.
37Hai PhongVietnam3.873.4412.4% Phong, located on the East Sea coast, is the largest port in north Vietnam.
39Santos *'s largest container port has opened several new terminals in the last few years. Bridge and tunnel options are being considered to relieve port access congestion and chronic ship backlog.
40SavannahU.S.3.743.3511.7%www.gaports.comSecond-busiest U.S. East Coast container port. The Savannah harbor expansion project is advancing. A bi-state port authority arrangement with South Carolina Ports Authority for a future ocean terminal on the Savannah River in Jasper County, S.C., remains on the table.
41Colon *1Panama3.583.298.8%www.amp.gob.paOn the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, the Colon port cluster includes Evergreen's Colon Container Ternimal, SSA Marine's Manzanillo International Terminal and the Panama Port Co.'s Cristobal port terminal.
NW Seaport Alliance
U.S.3.533.394.0%www.nwseaportalliance.comThe Federal Maritime Commission approved the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to operate as The Northwest Seaport Alliance in Washington state last year.

Gulftainer 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. Gulftainer owns 3PL Momentum.

Cosco Pacific's port facility gained 1.6 percent year-over-year in 2015, while the adjacent Greek government facility plunged 51 percent. The Cosco Pacific offer for 67 percent share of the port authority was accepted with an immediate 51 percent granted and the balance in five years in accord with terms.
45Balboa *1Panama3.293.47-5.0%www.amp.gob.paOn the Pacific end of the Panama Canal. Terminals include Panama Port Co. and PSA's Panama International Terminal.
46Tanjung PerakIndonesia3.123.110.5%

In Surabaya, East Java, it is the second-largest container port in Indonesia after Tanjung Priok, Jakarta.
47AmbarliTurkey3.093.49-11.5%www.altasliman.comTurkey's largest container port is located on the European side of the Marmara region on the Mediterrranean Sea. The ALTAŞ Ambarlı Port Facilities Trade Co. oversees Turkey's largest private port. central Mediterranean transshipment hub opened in 1988 and was privatized in 2004. In July, the 18,270-TEU Matz Maersk, a Triple E vessel, made its maiden voyage to the port.
49Vancouver *1Canada3.052.914.9%www.portvancouver.comOn the west coast of British Columbia, Canada's largest port has three dedicated container terminals: Deltaport and Vanterm, operated by GCT; and Centerm, operated by DP World.
50Mundra *2India2.992.729.9%www.adaniports.comHome to India's largest special economic zone, Mundra is operated by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. ANSEZ operates in 10 locations in India; Mundra is its flagship. Mundra set an Indian port record with a 16.2-meter draft sailing by the MSC Francesca.
1: Port participates in the Container Security Initiative of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Foreign ports currently in the CSI program include:
In the Americas and Caribbean: Montreal, Vancouver, and Halifax, Canada; Santos, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Puerto Cortes, Honduras; Caucedo, Dominican Republic; Kingston, Jamaica; Freeport, The Bahamas; Balboa, Colón, and Manzanillo, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia.
In Europe: Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Bremerhaven and Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp and Zeebrugge, Belgium; Le Havre and Marseilles, France; Gothenburg, Sweden; La Spezia, Salerno, Cagliari, Genoa, Naples, Gioia Tauro, and Livorno, Italy; Felixstowe, Tilbury, and Southampton, United Kingdom; Piraeus, Greece; Algeciras, Barcelona, and Valencia, Spain; Sines, Portugal.
In Asia: Singapore; Yokohama, Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe, Japan; Hong Kong; Busan, South Korea; Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia; Laem Chabang, Thailand; Chiwan, Shenzhen and Shanghai, Mainland China; Kaohsiung and Keelung, Taiwan; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Port Qasim, Pakistan.
In the Middle East: Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Port Salalah, Oman; Aqaba, Jordan.
In Africa: Durban, South Africa.

2: Volume shown in April-March fiscal year.

Compiled by Marsha Salisbury, JOC research editor,, or 973 776 7828.
Sources: Port reports and other information.