August 8, 2019
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released new datasets measuring liner shipping connectivity, port calls and turnaround time in the world’s container ports. The Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (port LSCI) dataset enables businesses and governments to determine maritime transport trends and their ports’ positions compared to others.
The index provides data on more than 900 ports dating back to 2006, is generated using the same methodology as that for the recently released country-level LSCI produced by UNCTAD in collaboration with MDSTransmodal.
“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, Ms. Sirimanne said.
Best connected countries in Africa
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 and Dar es Salaam connect Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to overseas markets through dedicated corridors, however they remain highly congested.
Low connectivity makes merchandise 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.
Port calls and port turnaround times
Besides the new datasets measuring liner shipping connectivity, UNCTAD also released new data on port calls and turnaround time in the global container ports, in collaboration with MarineTraffic.
The data shows that container vessels have the lowest turnaround times. In 2018, a ship spent a median time of 23.5 hours in ports. Dry bulk carriers typically spent just over two days during a port call.
“A shorter time in port is a positive indicator that could partly signal the level of port efficiency and trade competitiveness,” said UNCTAD’s chief of transport, Ms. Frida Youssef.
Economies with the fastest turn-around times are advanced ones with large volumes or small ones that handle low cargo volumes at each port call, Ms. Youssef said.
According to the data, the bottom 10 countries are all developing countries or least developed countries.
However, a longer time spent in port does not necessarily mean that the port is less efficient, as owners of ships may choose to have them stay longer in a port to purchase goods or services.
According to Ms. Youssef, countries with more port calls have lower turnaround times. “A port with a faster turnaround can accommodate a larger number of port calls with the same number of berths,” she said.
Such a port is also more attractive to shippers and carriers, Ms. Youssef said, so the number of port calls will be higher compared to a competing port that has a lower turnaround time.
Best connected ports globally
The Shanghai port has topped UNCTAD’s 2019 ranking of the world’s best-connected ports. The Chinese port garnered a connectivity score of 134 points, followed by the ports of Singapore (124.63 points), Pusan (114.45 points) in Korea and Ningbo (114.35 points), also in China.
Other ports on the top 10 list are Antwerp (94 points) and Rotterdam (93 points).