© Lee Gillion london gateway39410414
© Lee Gillion

Shippers looking for more direct calls in the third choice of export ports may do best to consider routing their cargo through smaller ports, rather than the largest container hubs.

Unveiling the results of its port connectivity index today, Drewry Maritime Advisers said that, while the world’s largest container port, Shanghai, was also the most connected – serving all six world regions via 168 weekly deepsea services – in many other regions, secondary ports were very often better connected than their larger local rivals.

In North America, the main ports along its east coast almost uniformly offer greater global connectivity than the west coast hubs of Los Angeles and Long Beach, despite the Southern Californian port complex handling around 40% of the US’s annual container traffic.

Drewry calculates that North America’s most connected port is actually Savannah, ahead of New York, Norfolk and Charleston. Los Angeles comes sixth, behind Oakland.

“Los Angeles and Long Beach do not score as highly in terms of connectivity as Savannah, despite being bigger ports. ECNA ports, such as Savannah, have connections to Europe, Asia and elsewhere due to their geography, whereas WCNA ports, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach, tend to have a more singular focus with Asia,” Drewry explained.

Meanwhile UK shippers in search of their most connected port should head to London Gateway, which Drewry says has greater connectivity than either Felixstowe and Southampton, despite its significantly lower throughput.

“It benefits from its range of trade areas served (all six possible world areas are served by direct services, whereas Felixstowe and Southampton only have five – both missing Oceania). Additionally, some of London Gateway’s services ‘score double’ in the service count. For example, the CMA CGM/Hapag-Lloyd (NEWMO/EAX) and MSC (Australia Express) services to Oceania also call at Singapore, and so are counted as services providing connectivity to Asia as well,” Drewry said.

Drewry has calculated port connectivity by counting the number of direct services – a port’s feeder connections to deepsea services at another port are not counted – and the number of world regions these services directly connect it to.

It does not include intra-regional trades, such as intra-Asia, which is now often classified as the world’s single largest shipping trade in teu terms.

“For shippers, port connectivity is as important as port size or scale. Having the widest possible range of direct services is a significant competitive advantage for all ports,” it said.

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