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10 Busiest Seaports in the World

Posted by Becky Harris on September 5, 2017 - 8:03 AM
Busiest Seaports

Which shipping ports are the busiest?

Manufacturers, suppliers and buyers across all industries rely on container shipping services for importing and exporting their freight. With more than 34 million standard containers available across the globe, it’s no surprise that ports handled over 687 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in 2015 alone. Let’s take a look at the busiest world ports and how they impact your supply chain.  

Top 10 busiest ports

Learn more about the top seaports in the world, ranked by the total number of TEUs that travel through each location: 

10. Port of Tianjin

Tianjin serves as the maritime gateway of Beijing, connecting to multiple waterways via the Grand Canal. Although first used in the first century B.C., the port wasn’t developed until the Tang Dynasty’s reign in seventh century A.D.

  • 2016 container volume: 7.18 million TEUs
  • Average daily cargo value: $477 million
  • The Port of Tianjin spans over 130 square miles of land and water

9. Port of Dubai

Voted the “Best Seaport in the Middle East” by the Higher Committee for UAE Civil Seaports and Airport Security, the Port of Jebel Ali in Dubai opened in 1979 to supplement Port Rashid. This is the most-used harbor outside of the United States by the U.S. Navy. 

  • 2016 container volume: 14.8 million TEUs
  • Jebel Ali is the largest man-made harbor in the world
  • Jebel Ali is also the largest marine terminal in the Middle East

8. Port of Qingdao

Like many of China’s prominent seaports, the Port of Qingdao has a rich history — it’s connected the Bohai Rim and Yangtze River Delta regions to the rest of the world since 1892. Qingdao offers direct shipping routes to more than 180 countries and 700 ports. 

  • 2016 container volume: 18 million TEUs
  • The Port of Qingdao includes the Qingdao Old Port, the Huangdao Oil Port and the Qianwan New Port
  • Three U.S. naval ships stopped in Qingdao in 1984, marking the first United States port call to China in over 37 years

7. Port of Guangzhou

The Port of Guangzhou is called the “Silk Road on the Sea,” covering nearly 250 miles of coastline as a major shipping hub in southern China. Located in the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou connects with more than 100 ports in China and 350 ports worldwide. 

  • 2016 container volume: 18.9 million TEUs
  • Average daily cargo value: $311 million
  • Guangzho’s container throughput in 2016 increased more than any other top Chinese port, rising 8 percent over 2015 totals

6. Port of Busan

Located on the southern end of the Korean peninsula, the Port of Busan is a metropolitan city with a population of 3.5 million residents. Yong Island splits the Port of Busan, connecting to the mainland by drawbridge — the east side focuses on trade, and the west side centers around fishing. 

  • 2016 container volume: 19.4 million TEUs
  • Busan handled over 10 million transshipment containers in 2015 to become the third-largest transshipment handler in the world
  • In 2016, South Korea pledged $13.3 billion toward expansion to prepare for the future and push to become the world’s second-largest transshipment hub

5. Port of Hong Kong

Handling over 300 container liner services each week, the Port of Hong Kong connects the region to over 470 locations around the world. This international port has nine container terminals along the Kwai Chung-Tsing Yi basin. 

  • 2016 container volume: 19.8 million TEUs
  • Hong Kong has ranked as a top world port since 1987
  • The Kwai Chung-Tsing Yi container terminals handled 77 percent of throughput in 2016

4. Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan

China’s third-busiest port was officially formed when the Ningbo and Zhoushan ports merged in 2015. A key area in making marine activities between northern and southern China feasible, its centralized location also allows for connections to over 600 ports across 100 countries.  

  • 2016 container volume: 23.3 million TEUs
  • In 2016, Ningbo-Zhoushan became the first seaport to handle 900 million tons of cargo
  • Ningbo is one of the oldest ports in China, first acting as a port of call in 752 A.D. 

3. Port of Shenzhen

Positioned on the Kowloon Peninsula, Shenzhen is actually made up of several smaller ports. Located along 162 miles of the Guangdong province coastline, the Port of Shenzhen primarily serves businesses around the Pearl River Delta. 

  • 2016 container volume: 23.98 million TEUs
  • Shenzhen ports include Yantian, Dachan Bay, Shekou and Chiwan
  • Average daily cargo value: $681 million

2. Port of Singapore

This port held the top spot on the list until 2010. Still the largest publicly owned seaport, Singapore connects more than 123 countries and 600 ports from its spot on the southern end of the Malay Peninsula.  

  • 2016 container volume: 30.9 million TEUs
  • 2016 cargo throughput: 593.3 million tons
  • Singapore is one of the world’s largest refrigerated container ports, handling nearly 1.8 million refrigerated TEUs in 2016

1. Port of Shanghai

As the largest port in China, the Port of Shanghai is also the busiest port in the world. With a central location along the Chinese coastline and the Yangtze River Delta, this bustling harbor handles approximately 25.7 percent of China’s international trade volume.

  • 2016 container volume: 37.13 million TEUs
  • Average daily cargo value: $1.6 billion
  • Coverage area spans over 2,200 square miles

The busiest seaports in the U.S. 

While these container ports don’t rank among the busiest shipping ports in the world, they are the busiest in North America — if you’re importing or exporting to or from the United States, your container likely will travel through one of these locations. 

Port of Los Angeles

Known as “America’s Port,” the Port of Los Angeles is an international hub just 25 miles from downtown LA on the San Pedro Bay. 

  • 2016 container volume: 8.8 million TEUs
  • 2016 cargo value: $272 billion
  • Covers 7,500 acres along 43 waterfront miles

Port of Long Beach

Founded in 1911, 90 percent of the shipments passing through Long Beach can be attributed to east Asian trade. If the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles were combined, they would form the 10th-busiest port in the world (ahead of Tianjin, by volume). 

  • 2016 container volume: 6.77 million TEUs
  • 2016 cargo value: $180 billion
  • Spans 3,000 land acres and 4,600 acres of water

Port of New York/New Jersey

The largest seaport on the East Coast, New York and New Jersey accounts for nearly 30 percent of its market share. Modern containerization was born here — loaded with cargo containers, the Ideal X ship first sailed from New Jersey in 1956. 

  • 2016 container volume: 3.6 million TEUs
  • 2016 cargo value: $187.7 billion
  • After years of fighting over jurisdiction rights, the entire port district rolled under The Port of New York Authority in 1948 

Shipping to and from seaports around the globe

Whether you’re coordinating shipments for a seasonal project or require a weekly sailing schedule, ArcBest® offers container shipping solutions to fit your needs. For more information, get a quote online or call 844-560-2531 to speak with an ocean shipping specialist. 

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