Hong Kong Drops Out of Top 10 Container Ports for the First Time in History, reveals Alphaliner Ranking

mundra port

Alphaliner, a global maritime information and data provider, recently revealed its ranking of 30 of the world’s busiest 30 box ports. According to the ranking, once a stalwart in container shipping, Hong Kong has fallen out of the world’s top 10 container ports for the first time. According to industry experts, this is a significant development marking the evolving landscape of global trade amid the present complex operating environment.

Hong Kong’s decline in container traffic last year amounted to a notable 14.1%, bringing its total throughput to 14.3 million TEU. This downturn underscores a long-term trend in the port’s performance, as it has experienced a steady decline over the past decade. Once a contender for the title of the world’s busiest port alongside Singapore and Shanghai, Hong Kong’s stature has now been eclipsed, with Dubai seizing the tenth ranking in 2023.

The struggles of Hong Kong’s port are also notable considering that it has seen 7 consecutive years of volume declines, and has lost a substantial part of its container traffic over the past decade.

The fall in Hong Kong’s container traffic was paralleled by New York/New Jersey, also major port, which experienced a decline of 17.7% in throughput, amounting to 7.8 million TEU for the year. This decline was part of a broader trend in the United States, with ports like Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Savannah also witnessing decreases in throughput, albeit to varying extents.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, some ports managed to maintain positive trajectories. For example, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey saw volumes still surpassing those of 2019. Furthermore, the pandemic spurred unexpected growth in certain ports, such as China’s Qinzhou and Vietnam’s Cai Mep, both of which secured positions in the top 30. Qinzhou recorded a growth of 13.1%, reaching 6.1 million TEU, while Cai Mep, despite flat growth, managed to overtake other ports with declining volumes.

In Europe, ports like Rotterdam, Antwerp-Bruges, and Hamburg experienced declines attributed partly to the absence of Russian transshipment traffic. This decline was reflected in their positions in the rankings, as each fell two places.

Amidst these fluctuations, Shanghai retained its position as the world’s busiest container port, followed by Singapore and Ningbo. Shanghai’s throughput, hovering just over 49.1 million TEU, indicates its potential to surpass the 50 million TEU milestone in 2024 with a modest growth rate of around 2%.

While some ports grapple with declining volumes and logistical challenges, others, like India’s Mundra and Morocco’s Tanger Med, have showcased robust growth. Mundra, now India’s leading port, witnessed a growth of 11.2% in 2023, surpassing Colombo to become the subcontinent’s largest box port. Similarly, Tanger Med’s growth of 13.4% propelled it three places higher in the rankings, though concerns have been raised about its proximity to capacity limits.

As global trade patterns continue to evolve amidst economic shifts and geopolitical developments, the ranking of container ports reflects the dynamic nature of the industry, with winners and losers emerging in a landscape shaped by diverse factors.

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