Below is a list of the world’s 50 busiest container ports as measured by twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Of the top 50, eleven are in China, four in the United States and Japan, and two each are in the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Spain, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Each continent is represented except Oceania and Antarctica, while Asia dominates with 32 of the 50 busiest container ports. One quibble I have with the data is the fact that Los Angeles and Long Beach are listed separately. If combined, they would have ranked as the seventh largest container port in the world with 12,660 TEUs.
Another interesting feature is to see two critical canal access cities on the list. Port Said, Egypt at the Mediterranen entrance to the Suez Canal is ranked 33rd and Balboa, Panama at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal is ranked 43rd. There rankings could be partially due to the fact that some of the largest ocean-going ships cannot use the canals, so they act as transfer points. Not sure why their counterparts, Suez and Panama City, are not represented, though it may have to do with how the data is tabulated.
To me the most surprising features of the data are only one city in India is represented (Mumbai) and that not one port from Russia is on the list. One would think either St. Petersburg, Vladavostok, or Odessa would be a busy enough containerport. While not as noticeable as the busiest air cargo airport list from January 29th, eleven of these 50 ports are located in nations that are relatively small in geography and/or population.
For planners, it is interesting to note how some smaller cities have found an important niche in the containerport marketplace. Savannah, Georgia is an excellent example. It is considerably smaller in population than most of the cities on the list, but is ranked 41st in the world and 3rd/4th in the United States depending on whether you combine Los Angeles and Long Beach into one data set. The city and the Georgia Ports Authority should be quite proud of their efforts to capitalize on the growth in the container shipping business and other seaport cities may want to take notes from Savannah’s successful example of an 11.5% compounded annual growth rate between 2000 and 2010 (see chart link). I am fairly certain that Seattle, the Bay Area, Jacksonville, Hampton Roads, Tampa, Mobile, and Boston may all be interested, here in the United States. kudos to Savannah, Georgia for their unparalleled success over the past decade.
|20||New York City Metro||USA||5,290|
|28||Ho Chi Minh City||Vietnam||4,110|