Shanghai ranks third in shipping world backed by high-end services: industry index
High-end services aid city’s rise against other major global ports
Published: Jul 12, 2020 09:28 PM

Tourists are seen at the Bund in Shanghai, east China, March 24, 2020. (Photo by Wang Xiang/Xinhua)

For the first time in six years, Shanghai has become one of the world's top three shipping centers, an industry report showed. 

Shanghai ranked third in the 2020 Xinhua-Baltic Exchange International Shipping Center Development Index, second only to Singapore and London, according to a statement posted on the Shanghai municipal government website on Sunday. The report measures port facilities, shipping services and comprehensive shipping resources.

Analysts said Shanghai's improved ranking was due to its improved soft power in terms of enhanced high-end shipping services. 

"In recent years, China has also been attaching importance to the development of shipping services and comprehensive shipping resources, striving to improve customs clearance efficiency and reduce logistics costs at ports, " Zhou Dequan, a research fellow with the Shanghai International Shipping Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Wu Minghua, a Shanghai-based independent shipping industry analyst, said the change in the global top three ranking is significant. Shanghai is advancing with many years of steady and focused efforts to become a global shipping center.

Hong Kong's ranking changed from third place before 2018 to second place in 2019, before falling out of the top three in 2020.

"Shanghai now beats Hong Kong in many sub-indexes," Wu told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that Hong Kong sees its business environment damaged by riots.

In the future, Shanghai is likely to surpass London and Singapore as the top international shipping center, Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, predicted, noting the rise of Shanghai will be backed by China's strong market potential and the most complete industrial categories in the world.

"Becoming an international shipping center represents a comprehensive manifestation of economic development and the level of opening up of a country," Bai told the Global Times on Sunday.

Nearly half of the world's top 100 container lines have opened branches in Shanghai while the municipality's shipping and cargo insurance business accounted for about one-quarter of the national total with world-leading business volumes.

Analysts pointed out China's faster economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will help Shanghai and Hong Kong, as economic and trade are conducive to efforts to be global shipping centers.

The IMF predicted in June that China will post positive growth in 2020, while the global economy will contract 4.9 percent due to the coronavirus.

In addition to Shanghai, Chinese cities including Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang Province, Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province and Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province were placed at 11, 13 and 15.

Chinese ports including Qingdao and Tianjin have higher rankings than last year as the Chinese economy is rapidly recovering from the impact of the coronavirus, whereas European and US ports are still facing problems due to the pandemic, Zhou noted.

However, analysts said that Shanghai has many areas where it must improve before it can challenge London, the leader in global high-end shipping services, or Singapore, which boasts all-round strengths.

Wu said Shanghai still lags behind London and Singapore in high-end shipping services such as maritime arbitration, insurance and finance.

"In terms of maritime arbitration, for instance, Shanghai settled less than 100 cases last year while London settled several thousand. And Singapore remains the global shipping center of Asia," Wu said.

"Shanghai needs to deepen the level of informatization, strengthen its connection with international shipping companies, and take advantage of the construction of the free trade zone to develop its ports," Bai said.