22:50 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Containers and cranes are seen at a port in Hong Kong

    How Chinese Ports Outperform American, Japanese Harbors

    © AFP 2019 / Laurent FIEVET
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    Chinese ports want to monopolize the global freight transportation market, having taken shares of large US and Japanese harbors.

    In 2014, Chinese ports have ousted American and Japanese harbors from the top 10 ranking of the world’s largest ports in terms of cargo volume, according to a report by the American Association of Port Authorities.

    Over the past 10 years, Chinese ports outperformed other global harbors in terms of cargo traffic. In 2003, the global top 10 ranking included Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. In 2014, six Chinese harbors were included in the ranking, with a total cargo volume of 2.86 billion tons.

    Particularly, Shanghai was ranked first, with a cargo volume of 678 million tons, and toppled Singapore from the first place. Among other leaders are Singapore, Port Hedland (Australia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), and Busan (South Korea).

    American ports like South Louisiana and Houston were excluded from the top 10. Previously, they were ranked fifth and sixth relatively.

    Experts say that the current ranking is logical, taking into account the fact that China is often described as the "world's factory." Over the past 12 years, the majority of manufacturers across the globe have moved production lines to China, especially the production of clothes and consumer electronics.

    Those categories of goods are now leading in container traffic volumes in Chinese ports.

    At the same time, cabotage (transportation of goods within one country) accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total cargo traffic in China. In 2013, China became the world’s leader in exports, with a foreign trade volume of over $4 trillion.

    Beijing has been investing hundreds of billions of dollars in developing ports, including foreign ports. In March 2013, Xi Jinping visited Tanzania, one of the markets China has invested for long. In the 1970s, a railway was constructed between Namibia and Tanzania, funded by China. Currently, a pipeline is being built from oilfields in southern Tanzania to the port of Dar al-Salam. During the visit, China and Tanzania discussed investing $10 billion in building a harbor in the town of Bagamoyo. In 2015, Chinese companies China Merchants Group and Cosco Group bought a 65 percent share of one of the Turkish largest container yards, Kumport, for nearly $1 billion.

    China has also invested a lot into the European port infrastructure, under the initiative of the New Silk Road.

    In 2003-2014, the total cargo volume of the world’s 25 largest ports rose from 4.2 billion to 6.7 billion tons, by 66 percent, which corresponded to the overall growth in global trade. Rapid growth in the Chinese economy, especially in the construction industry, turned China into the world’s leading exporter of coal. In addition, China became one of the world’s biggest consumers of iron ore. 


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