Shipping article(s)
April 17, 2024

Hong Kong has dropped out of the top 10 busiest container ports in the world for the first time in history, according to data from Alphaliner on the 30 busiest box ports worldwide.


Last year, the Hong Kong port—once a major container port and used to rival Singapore and Shanghai for the title of the world's busiest port for decades—saw a significant drop in traffic, with a decline of 14.1% to 14.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for 2023.


This marks a long-term decline trend for the port, which has also seen a 21.6% reduction in its volumes compared to the pre-pandemic period in 2019.


Dubai enters Top 10, replaces Rotterdam as Europe's busiest port

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 [Source: Alphaliner]

Hong Kong has now been surpassed by Dubai, which will take its place in the top 10 busiest ports list in the world in 2023.


"Dubai returns to top 10 after overtaking Rotterdam, Hong Kong," Alphaliner said. It added that the Middle East's largest container port, Dubai/Jebel Ali, has also re-entered the top 10 ranking of global container ports, overtaking Europe's biggest port & demonstrating the scale of the economic slump in Europe.


"Dubai overtook two of its nearest competitors in 2023 to make the top 10, a position it previously occupied in 2018. As earlier predicted by Alphaliner, it moved ahead of Hong Kong, which posted its seventh year of consecutive volume declines and has now lost a third of its container traffic over the past decade," it added.


Meanwhile, Rotterdam has been hit by a "near loss" of Russian cargo and a major contraction in European consumer demand.


Once Europe's busiest port, the Port of Rotterdam saw its volumes decline 7% in 2023 to 13.4 million TEUs. Volumes last year were also down 9% compared to 2019.


Shanghai maintained the top spot as the world's busiest port (49.16 million TEUs), followed by Singapore (39 million TEUs), Ningbo-Zhoushan (35.3 million TEUs), Qingdao (30 million TEUs), and Shenzhen (29.9 million TEUs).


Guangzhou (25.04 million TEUs), Busan (23.15 million TEUs), Tianjin (22.16 million TEUs), Los Angeles/Long Beach (16.65 million TEUs), and Dubai/Jebel Ali round out the top 10 list. 


Alphaliner noted that the only other major port to have suffered a steeper volume decline in 2023 than Hong Kong was New York & New Jersey, which saw its throughput decline 17.7% to 7.8 million TEUs for 2023.


"It was not alone in the US: Los Angeles, Long Beach and east coast port Savannah, a surprise feature in the top 30 during the pandemic, saw throughput drop year on year by 13%, 12% and 16%, respectively," it said.


"Nonetheless, the pandemic has so far been net positive for Long Beach and New York/New Jersey, with volumes still up on 2019 numbers," Alphaliner added.

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