Singapore tops the shipping centre charts once again

London comes in second in the annual Xinhua and Baltic Exchange shipping centre index, whilst Shanghai takes third place

Shanghai takes first place in the 2022 Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Development Centre Index Report. Image: Shutterstock

For the ninth year in a row, Singapore has been ranked as the top maritime shipping centre in the world in a yearly report jointly published by the Baltic Exchange and Chinese state media outlet, Xinhua.

The Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Development Centre Index (ISDCI) Report highlights the vital role of shipping in world trade and sheds light on the complex infrastructure and professional services networks that support it.

Ship movements in 2021 captured by MarineTraffic highlight the international importance of shipping
Ship movements in 2021 captured by MarineTraffic highlight the international importance of shipping

The rankings, which were released on Monday this week (11 July), reveal that the city state scored 94.88 out of a possible 100 points, due to its ease of doing business, broad and established network of maritime professional service providers and its strategically situated and well-managed port, which ranks as the second busiest in the world.

According to the report, Singapore handled nearly 600 million tonnes of cargo last year (2021), of which more than half – 363.7 million tonnes – were containerised. “Its location close to the South China Sea and Straits of Malacca offers Chinese and other Asian exporters a strategic route to western markets, and as a result a significant volume of the cargo is for transhipment,” says the report.

Containership movements in 2021 captured by MarineTraffic
Containership movements in 2021 captured by MarineTraffic

Singapore is also the world’s leading bunkering hub, and in 2021 there were 39,447 bunker calls by vessels. “Bunker sales hit a four year high in 2021 with just under 50 million mt. 50,000 mt of LNG bunkers were sold in the same year,” says the report.

London came second in the overall rankings with a score of 83.04 points, but tops the list for maritime services. Expertise in the UK capital remains unsurpassed, and the report says that it “can be found across shipbroking, maritime law, insurance and finance.”

It quotes Baltic Exchange figures which show that “UK-based shipbrokers transact around 30-40% of dry bulk and 50% of tanker fixtures.” Further, according to Maritime London, which promotes the UK as a place to do shipping business, London has a 30% share of the global insurance market and 90% of P&I cover is handled by clubs that have offices in the UK.

“Its leading status as a legal centre is also unchallenged due to UK law being ubiquitous in maritime contracts and dispute resolution, in particular arbitration. The reputation of its legal systems is unsurpassed and 80% of maritime-related cases heard in UK courts involve one or both parties based outside the UK,” says the report.

Meanwhile, the Chinese city of Shanghai features third in the rankings, as its port, the largest in the world, underpins its score of 82.79 points. The report says that: “Over the past five years, Shanghai has risen from fourth in the rankings in 2018 and 2019, to sit at third, when in 2020 it jumped ahead of Hong Kong,” adding that over the past 20 years the city has established itself as an international maritime hub.

Busy as usual - marine traffic around Singapore on 14 July,
Busy as usual – marine traffic around Singapore on 14 July,

Forty-three maritime locations were rated as part of the report, with the average score across the list standing at 58.70. Meanwhile, the average score amongst the top 10 ports is 76.98.

The rankings are based on port factors including cargo throughput, number of cranes, length of container berths and port draught; number of players in professional maritime support businesses such as shipbroking, ship management, ship financing, insurance and law as well as hull underwriting premiums; and general business environment factors such as customs tariffs, extent of electronic government services and logistics performance.   

There was little movement this year compared to last year’s rankings. New York/ New Jersey, however, moved up one place to the eighth spot due to an uptick of TEUs handled as cargoes were re-routed from US east coast ports to west coast ports.

The great shipping nation of Greece also features in the top 10, as its capital, Athens (also home to MarineTraffic!) sits in ninth place. According to the report, around 20% of the world fleet is controlled by Greek businesses and it’s the biggest ship-owning country in the world.

MarineTraffic clearly knows its place at the centre of world shipping, and also has offices in the top two maritime cities – Singapore and London – to prove it!

The top 10 centres over the past five years, according to the Xinhua-Baltic(ISDCI) Report, are as follows:













1 Singapore                   Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore
2 Hong Kong  Hong Kong London London London
3 London  London Shanghai Shanghai Shanghai
4 Shanghai  Shanghai Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong
5 Dubai  Dubai Dubai Dubai Dubai
6 Rotterdam  Rotterdam Rotterdam Rotterdam Rotterdam
7 Hamburg  Hamburg Hamburg Hamburg Hamburg
8 New York  New York/New Jersey    Athens/ Piraeus Athens/ Piraeus New York/New Jersey
9 Tokyo  Houston New York/New Jersey   New York/New Jersey  Athens/ Piraeus
10 Busan  Athens/Piraeus Tokyo Ningbo-Zhoushan Ningbo-Zhoushan


To view the full report go to this link

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