Shanghai has been named the world’s best-connected port in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) ranking for the ninth consecutive year, with a connectivity score of 134.

All top five ports in Unctad’s Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI) were in Asia. Singapore ranked second with a connectivity score of 124.63, followed by Busan, South Korea (114.45); Ningbo, China (114.35); and Hong Kong (102.79). 

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Of the top five, Ningbo showed the most pronounced increase, more than doubling its index value since 2006. The LSCI now provides data on more than 900 ports dating back to 2006 and is indexed on Hong Kong, which was ranked the best connected port in the index’s first year. 

Singapore and Shanghai have attracted more greenfield FDI projects than any other city within the logistics, distribution and transportation (LDT) business activity, with 203 and 178 projects, respectively, according to fDi Markets, a Financial Times data service that has monitored greenfield investment since 2003. Though Shanghai accumulated fewer greenfield projects than Singapore, the Chinese port city has a higher estimated capital expenditure value, at $15.89bn compared with $8.64bn.

Only ports in the top five have a LSCI score over 100 and no ports from Africa, Latin America, North America or Australasia made the top 20, reflecting the continued dominance of Asia. 

The Belgian port of Antwerp was ranked sixth with a LSCI connectivity score of 93.73, receiving an estimated $930m of greenfield investment in LDT business activity last year in 2018, a 702% increase from 2017. Rotterdam in the Netherlands (92.75) was the only other European port to make the top 10. 

The best-connected countries in Africa are those at its corners – Morocco, Egypt and South Africa – while the low rankings of most west African ports largely reflect their lack of proximity to the crossroads of major north-south and east-west shipping routes.

While the LSCI scores of leading ports on the west coast of North America have stagnated, those of the New York/New Jersey area and Savannah, Georgia have grown in excess of 20% since 2016. 

Efficient and well-connected container ports are key to minimising trade costs and fostering sustainable development. “A container port’s performance is a critical factor that can determine transport costs and, by extension, trade competitiveness,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, Unctad’s director of technology and logistics.