Currently, the two busiest container ports in the world are Hong Kong and Singapore each having handled in the first half of 2006, 11.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units. (TEU)
Hong Kong’s spin is that Hong Kong’s are better than those of Singapore because for Hong Kong the growth rate is 6.6 percent, for Singapore 4.2 percent. Extend those figures out and Hong Kong will soon be the biggest container port in the world.
It is not as simple as that.
Coming up fast on the outside track is Shanghai with an increase in container traffic of 17.8 per cent for the first six months of the year.
If this growth rate remains Shanghai will pick up the lead by this time next year. One good guess might by that the traffic volumes for the first half of 2007 would have Shanghai at the number-one position with 13.87 million TEUs, followed by Hong Kong with 12.95 million and Singapore with 12.37 million.
But nothing is certain. It may not quite happen that way.
Measured in any way there is currently a furious rate of growth in China with an overheating economy. It is possible, and forecast by many commentators, the Chinese Central Government may take a little of the steam out of the situation. Add to that possibility is the fact the Central Goverment is all for building new logistics for the interior and western provinces — the plan is for two new groups of ports, ten facilities all up, designed to come on line by 2010 although that would be galloping.
Take these two together — slowing down the economy, opening new facilities — and you could argue that it may just make it possible that Shanghai’s dominance of the market will diminish somewhat. However, the timing suggests it will not prevent Shanghai overtaking Singapore and Hong Kong next year whatever the longer term results will be.