THE Shanghai port has topped the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’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. The index is set at 100 for the best-connected port in 2006, which was Hong Kong, China.

Besides the Asian ports, the other ports on the top-10 list are those of Antwerp (94 points) in Belgium and Rotterdam (93 points) in the Netherlands. None of the ports in the top-20 list are from Africa, Latin America, North America or Australasia.

“A container port’s performance is a critical factor that can determine transport costs and, by extension, trade competitiveness,” UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne said.

Efficient and well-connected container ports enabled by frequent and direct shipping services are key to minimising trade costs and fostering sustainable development, Ms Sirimanne said.

UNCTAD’s port Liner Shipping Connectivity Index dataset enables businesses and governments to determine maritime transport trends and their ports’ positions compared to 900 others.

Low connectivity makes merchandise trade costly and uncompetitive. Many small island developing states face a vicious cycle where low trade volumes discourage investments in better maritime transport connectivity.

The Pacific Islands are among those with the lowest shipping connectivity. For example, Port Vila (Vanuatu) receives about one container ship every three days, the data shows.

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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 containerships 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, while container ships spent the least amount of time – less than a day.

“A shorter time in port is a positive indicator that could partly signal the level of port efficiency and trade competitiveness,” UNCTAD’s chief of transport, Frida Youssef said.

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