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Mon 1 Jan 2007 12:00 AM

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Asia’s top 10 ports

The Asian powerhouse economies are fuelling much of the dynamic growth in worldwide shipping. Inclusion in Sea Freight Middle East’s Top Ten Ports is based not only on throughput but also on improvements and investment plans.

Port of Singapore

Every two to three minutes, a ship arrives at or departs from the Port of Singapore. It is the focal point for some 200 shipping lines with links to more than 600 ports in over 120 countries worldwide. At any one time, there are about 1000 ships in the port.

Singapore has been the busiest port in the world in terms of shipping tonnage since 1986. For the second year in a row, total vessel arrivals crossed the 1 billion gross tonness (GT) mark to reach 1.15 GT in 2005. This new record outstripped 2004’s mark by 10.5% year-on-year, and further establishes Singapore as the busiest port in the world. Container ships accounted for 37% of the vessel arrival tonnage in 2005, followed by tankers at 30%.

In terms of container throughput, Singapore is currently the world’s busiest container port handling 23.2 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in 2005. This is an increase of 8.7% from 2004 and was expected to grow further in 2006 (audited figures not available at time of going to press). A healthy growth rate was also recorded for cargo throughput. The total cargo tonnage handled by the port rose by 7.6% year-on-year to reach 423 million tonnes in 2005.

Singapore is also the world’s top bunkering port. In 2005, a record total of 25.5 million tonnes of bunkers were sold, an increase of 8.1% over the previous year.

The stellar performances look set to continue in 2007. As of November 2006, total vessel calls in terms of tonnage and total bunker sales have already surpassed 2005 full-year figures. In the eleven months, total vessel calls reached 1.2 billion gross tonnage, while total bunker sales hit 25.7 million tonnes. PSA claim that the port is on course to achieve a new record for container throughput. Up till November this year, the port has handled some 22.6 million TEUs.

In addition, the Port of Singapore is also a thriving hub for shipbuilding, ship repairs and conversions. It is a global leader in the building of jack-up rigs, commanding some 80% of the

world market share.

In recognition of these achievements, Singapore was voted the “Best Seaport in Asia” at the 2006 Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards (AFSCA), making it the 18th time that the Republic has been conferred the honour.

Port of Kaohsiung

Taiwan’s port of Kaohsiung covers 2683 hectares, with a natural harbour and two access channels to the sea of 11 and 16 metres draft depth. At present 118 berths include 25 container terminals capable of accommodating the 6000 TEU post-Panamax container ships. As a major world port, Kaohsiung has developed worldwide shipping links, with 372 shipping routes extending to 367 ports in 102 countries on five continents.

Located in southern Taiwan, it is the country’s leading port. Kaohsiung is a major centre for manufacturing, refining, and transhipment. The major port handles the majority of Taiwan’s oil imports and has been the central force in driving the large amount of heavy industry located around the city. The port has stimulated the region as an export-processing zone, producing aluminium, wood and paper products, fertilizers, cement, metals, machinery, and ships. Kaoshiung harbour is the fourth largest in the world and plays host to Taiwan’s shipbuilding industry.

Projects already underway aimed at increasing the throughput and status as a major Pacific transhipment hub include land reclamation, wharf rebuilding and surrounding infrastructure upgrades. To accelerate the pace of port development, increase service quality provision, and lower state financial burdens, the port is receptive to private sector investment.

Many would see this as a highly strategic stakeholder investment, given that steady growth has characterised Kaoshiung’s continuing development, from 2001 TEU throughput of 7,540,525 to a record total of 9,470,000 in 2005 and the facility currently sits 6th in the world rankings.


The Port of Tokyo is nestled in a dense economic region serving an immediate population of 40 million people. Japan’s prime hub occupies 1080 hectares on land and a designated water area covering 5453 hectares. In 2001 container throughput was 2,968,284 TEUs, which placed Tokyo 15th in the world rankings. Recently the increase in traffic managed by Japan’s neighbours has eroded at that ranking, having slipped to 20th by 2005. However, this should not be viewed as a failure of the port authority, as it has still managed to increase throughput by over 600,000 units in a four-year period and in 2005 handled a record 3,594,000 TEUs.

With 31 container cranes and 182 berths, the port is equipped to handle the largest ocean going vessels and remarkably boasts 38 helipad spots. Seven berths at the oil container terminal each have a 50,000 dwt capacity.

Routes covered from Tokyo connecting Japan to the wider world:

North America - Europe:

40 Per Month

North America:

60 Per Month

South America:

4 Per Month


12 Per Month

East Asia:

32 Per Month


156 Per Month

South East Asia:

92 Per Month


2 Per Month

Ho Chi Minh City

In December 2005, DP World entered into a concession with a local government entity to build, equip and operate a greenfield container terminal near Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam through a joint venture partnership in which the Dubai based operator hold 80% of the equity.

The project is an 80:20 joint venture between DP World and the Vietnamese state-owned Tan Thuan Industrial Promotion Company (IPC). Upon completion, the terminal, which is located along the western shore of the Soa Rap River in the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park, will have the capacity to handle 1.5 million TEU a year. SPCT (Saigon Premier Container Terminal) should be operational by Q3 2008.

Vietnam is the region’s second fastest growing economy with an average annual GDP growth rate of 7.1% since 2000. Ho Chi Minh City is the economic epicentre of Vietnam and is currently served by various port and terminal facilities along the Saigon River, most of which have been identified for progressive closure over the next 10 to 15 years. SPCT, located in close proximity to Ho Chi Minh City’s industrial hinterland, will eventually handle the cargo that currently moves through these ports as well as attracting new volumes. The container market volume for Ho Chi Minh City grew by a massive 16% in 2005.

With over 700km of canals to deep water locations, the maritime industry in Vietnam is booming, and the government forecast suggests a phenomenal growth of 30% per annum. The position in our top ten is justified by the huge potential as Vietnam makes progressive moves to develop its maritime industry.

Busan, South Korea

The Port of Busan consists of the North Port, Gamchun Harbor, Tadaepo Harbor and the South Port. Located at the south eastern end of the Korean Peninsular, Busan bills itself as the gateway connecting the Pacific Ocean and the continent of Asia. Korea’s foremost port handles 40% of total marine export cargoes, 81 % of container cargoes and 42% of the country’s marine bound domestic produce.

The port is currently capable of processing 91 million tonnes of cargo and has a quay wall extending 26.8km enabling the simultaneous facilitation of 169 vessels. Keen to attract a bigger slice of the growing marine traffic in SE Asia the port authority is developing New Busan Port, due for completion in 2011 in order to boost capacity by a further 30 simultaneous vessel calls (maximum 50,000 dwt) and 8 million extra TEU handling capability.

The project is already underway, with 55% of the cost being met by strategic private investors. The New Busan Port facility is designed to enhance the competitiveness of an already cramped facility and ensure the smooth handling of import and transhipment cargo as port throughput globally continues to rise.

The port has maintained encouraging growth despite intense regional competition, with 11,491,968 TEUs handled in 2004 up to 11,840,445 TEU in 2005.

In order to maintain the competitiveness of Korea’s flagship facility it was announced in December 2006 that the container tax, which was imposed in 1992, will be terminated this year. The Busan Port Authority has declared that importers and exporters will see an immediate reduction in the cost of logistics through the port.


It is highly likely that Shanghai port will soon officially lay claim to the title of ‘world’s largest cargo port,’ although the claim is already being trumpeted through much of the Chinese press. Processed cargo topped 443 million tonnes in 2005, higher than Singapore’s port, according to the latest statistics of the Shanghai Port Management Department.

The rapid development of the Chinese economy and the large industrial and trade base of the Yangtze River Delta region explain Shanghai’s achievement. The meteoric development of the world’s new economic powerhouse has driven Shanghai’s ability to double cargo handling capacity from 200 million tonnes to 400 million tonnes in just five years.

Shanghai handled 18.09 million TEUs in 2005, rising 24.2% over the previous year, taking the third position in the world. Total voyages mounted from the port amounts to 1967 monthly, including 942 to international ports. Shanghai Port claimed to have handled more than 20 million TEU by the end of November 2006, which - if accurate, would put it on track to become the busiest port in the world for

TEU traffic.

Shanghai Port was visited on average by 2173 container ships from more than 300 ports around the world each month from January to November this year. The port’s own forecasts predict that by 2010 the port will handle a staggering 34 million TEU.

Already, seven of the world’s top 20 container ports are in China, and their growth rates are outstripping the rest. Container traffic for the eight largest Chinese ports grew an average 53% year on year between 2003 and 2005.

Critical to expansion in Shanghai was the opening last year of the US$16 billion Yangshan deepwater port.

Yangshan has five berths now but will have 16 berths by 2010 and 52 by 2020, when it will be capable of handling 25 million containers a year.

With a registered capital of $12.5 million, Shanghai Ji Fa Logistics Company (SJIFA) was established in August 1994 as a joint-venture company by Shanghai Port Container Comprehensive Development Corporation, and DP World Hong Kong. The company uses a total of 63,096m2 of land to operate the container depot, bonded warehouse, container and vehicle repair facility and container transportation.

The depot is equipped with 17 container handling equipment and 17 container tractors to be able to handle 6000 TEUs. There is a 4509m2 CFS warehouse with one time stuffing and stripping capacity of 250 TEUs. SJIFA is the first joint venture depot in Shanghai and was granted the ISO9002 certificate by LRQA in March of 1997.

Lembaga Pelabuhan Kelang – Port Kelang

Port Kelang is Malaysia’s primary ocean hub and is currently ranked 14th in the world in terms of container throughput, handling 5,543,527 TEUs in 2005. This shows an impressive 33% growth from 3.8 million TEUs in 2001. The facility also benefits from direct connection to a mainland railway which serves the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Currently, both West Port and North Port have been privatised and are managed as separate entities.

West Port is managed by Kelang Multi Terminal (KMT), and North Port by Northport Malaysia. The current Northport entity is a merger of two companies, Kelang Container Terminal (KCT) and Kelang Port Management (KPM).

The port has a total of 53 berths with a total length exceeding 11,370 metres. 19 of these berths are dedicated to container handling, and 13 designated for breakbulk operations. The container berths vary in size and can accommodate 60,000 dwt to 120,000 dwt vessels. The container yard covers 156.4 hectares and is equipped with 44 quay cranes and 91 yard gantrys.

Hong Kong

Despite having lost the moniker of ‘world’s busiest’ container terminal to Singapore in 2005, Hong Kong still occupies one of the most strategic and prosperous port facilities in the world.

A naturally sheltered deep sea port located in the Kwai Chung-Tsing Yi basin, Hong Kong is capable of handling the largest vessels both in operation and those still on the drawing board. The port has shown strong growth despite strong competition from Shanghai, from 17,826,000 TEUs handled in 2001, to over 22.6 million TEUs in 2005. Each week over 450 container vessels call at the island port, and the annual figures for 2005 show over 230,000 vessel calls.

Collectively the nine container terminals occupy 285 hectares of land, providing 24 berths and 8530 metres of deep-water frontage. Waterfront working areas intended for transferring general cargo, bulk and containers are split into eight units and represent 7040 metres of quay length.

Large modern bunkering vessels offer oil capacities of 2300 tonnes and a pumping rate of 1000 tonnes per hour, ensuring ships calling Hong Kong can quickly replenish. The port also boasts two world leading ship repair yards, featuring four floating docks with lifting capacities of 46,000 tonnes, capable of accommodating vessels of post panamax size.

The DP World operated CT3 berth lays claim to the most efficient productivity in the port, with an average of 40 moves per hour per shore crane, handling a record throughput exceeding 1.2 million TEUs for a single berth.

The existing 9 terminals handle about 60% of total container traffic handled in Hong Kong. Planning is underway for a potential Container Terminal 10 (CT10), with possible sites narrowed down to either southwest Tsing Yi or northwest Lantau, to the west of the airport.

Laem Chabang, Thailand

Laem Chabang Port, located in the eastern part of Thailand, covers a total area of 2572 acres, and is the main deep sea port of Thailand. It consists of several minor ports including seven container terminals, a dedicated Ro-Ro berth, and general cargo and passenger terminals. The facility also boasts a deepwater shipyard facility. The port authority has expressed a desire to become the region’s hub and gateway for neighbouring countries in the Kong River region, and current development suggests this will be achieved soon. The most developed port in Thailand is fully ISPS compliant and operates 24 hour CCTV.

Laem Chabang Port is dredged throughout to handle super post Panamax vessels. The Port Authority of Thailand is responsible for the whole facility, while it leases to private sector operators to conduct the operational functions. The ‘landlord port’ system is working extremely well, and Laem Chabang Port can boast one of the highest trading growth rates in the world, which warrants the inclusion in this years top ten. The global rating has leapfrogged from the twenty-third in 1999 to eighteenth in 2005. Over 3.7m TEU have been handled to date in 2006, indicating year-on-year growth of over 8%.

With the intention to develop Laem Chabang Port to world-leading standards, DP World have begun, as part of the LCIT consortium, 30 year concessions to manage and operate the C3 and B5 terminals at the facility. Handling rates at these terminals average in excess of 30 moves per crane hour and use a proprietary brand control and management system. The newest concession at C3 comprises a 500 metre wharf covered by four super post panamax cranes and back up by a further 12 rubber tyred gantries in a 22 hectare yard. These cranes are twin-lift cranes and capable of over 40 moves per hour. In just seven years the LCIT managed terminals have produced throughput growth from 181,195 TEUs in 1998 to over 1.2 million TEUs in 2006, and now manage nearly 30% of the port’s total business.

Jawaharlal Nehru Port

Jawaharlal Nehru Port (also known as Nhava Sheva is a port in Maharashtra) India, borders the Arabian Sea.

The port is run by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, an organisation entrusted with the operations of the large shipping port in Navi Mumbai, India and controlled by the Central Government of India. The port lies on the mainland, opposite the city of Mumbai across the Thane Creek.

It is connected to major highways and rail networks in India. The port handles 65% of India’s container traffic. New terminals are to be set up to alleviate the current problems, and are scheduled to be ready by 2008. JNPCT handled a record 118,397 TEUs of container traffic in December 2005, which is the highest ever handled at the facility in a single month.

The average gross berth productivity at JNPCT was recorded at 46.20 moves per hour per berth. A total of 2456 vessels called on JN Port during the calendar year 2005 as against 2350 vessels called during the same period in 2004, registering growth in vessel traffic of 4.51%.

During the current financial year 2006-07, the port has recorded massive growth of 15.17% in total traffic and 20.31 % in container throughput over the same period last year..

The inclusion in our top ten is credit to the improvements made recently, such as much shorter dwell times in port.

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