Global shifts in port connectivity

Every quarter, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) releases data on liner shipping connectivity. The index aims to analyse the connectivity of ports across the globe and is measured by a combination of 6 components including: number of ships calling per week as per schedules, deployed capacity offered in the port and average vessel size calling the port.

In the most recent index for Q4 2022, some Far East ports saw double digit increases, meanwhile ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp declined in connectivity. China saw a 12% increase when compared with Q4 2019 and Vietnam experienced a 29% increase over the same period, a testament to the increase in Intra-Asia trade. Comparatively, Rotterdam and Antwerp both recorded a 2.9% decrease when compared to Q4 2019. 

But why is this data important and what does it tell us? The index captures how well countries are connected to global shipping networks and translates to the relative position of a country in liner shipping networks, which matters for trade prospects and competitiveness.



  • Rates have continued to fall from Asia to Europe and the USA amidst continuing weak demand.
  • Schedule reliability from Asia to North Europe has continued to improve.
    • Figures for December/January show that schedule reliability was 52% on time, up by nearly 5% when compared with October/November statistics.
    • The average delay time is currently 5 days.
    • 2M has the highest levels of schedule reliability with 62%. 
  • Maersk and MSC are beginning to reorganise their services and strategies ahead of their alliance termination. 
    • MSC will relaunch its Asia – Mediterranean Dragon  service from March. 
    • MSC has also ordered ten 11,500 TEU LNG ships.
    • It remains to be seen what steps Maersk will take.
  • New vessels are set to enter the market from Asia to the UK and Europe.
    • A total of 4 new vessels from various carriers, each with a capacity in excess of 24,000 TEUs will enter service in March.
    • The new vessels are compliant with IMO regulations and more economical to run, however it remains to be seen what impact this increase in capacity will have on blank sailings.  


Central China to USA and Europe 

  • From SHA to Europe and the USA, rates have increased this week. 
    • This is in part due to  factories having fully resumed production, therefore more cargo is ready to ship. 
  • From NGB to Europe and the USA, rates have increased this week. 

North China to USA and Europe 

  • From TSN to Europe and the USA, the market is slow this week and rates are stable. .
    • It is expected that space will be limited over the next week however. 
    • Air China, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines can provide spot rates for dense cargo on their passenger flights from TSN to Europe.  
    • Japan Airlines, All Nippon and Cathay Pacific can provide spot rates for dense cargo on passenger flights from TSN to the USA. 
    • Korean Air and Asiana Airlines can provide freighter flights with earlier ETDs on both routes. 
  • From PEK to Europe and the USA, rates are stable and the air market is slow this week.
    • There is still reduced service available to the USA as some carriers are taking on less volume than normal or have cancelled and rescheduled flights. 
    • We advise checking space and rates on a case-by-case basis. 
  • From TAO to Europe, the rate has increased this week but to the USA, it has remained stable. 
  • From CKG to Europe, rates have remained stable but to the USA rates have seen a slight rise.
    • Plenty of space is available between CKG and Europe

South China to USA and Europe 

  • From  CAN to Europe and the USA, rates have increased this week
    • Space has become tight forcing rates higher.
  • From SZX to Europe and the USA, rates  have increased this week.
    • Space has become tight forcing rates higher.


  • Container volumes to the US have been failing sharply since September; however, this has not translated to a decrease in US inventories. 
    • According to Container Trade Statistics , US imports from Asia declined 22.5% year on year from September to December 2022.
    • However, the ratio of inventory to sales has continued to grow which indicates that despite the sharp drop in goods being shipped to the US, inventory levels have continued to grow.
    • This implies that the inventory correction cycle may be longer than anticipated as levels of stock remain high while sales remain low. 
  • Despite the aforementioned inventory vs sales ratio, new data released by the US Commerce Department has shown that consumer spending has increased in January.
    • January saw a 1.8% increase in consumer spending, the largest rise since March 2021.
    • This follows a decline in spending during  November and December.
    • Among the top goods which contributed to this increase were long-lasting manufactured goods like motor vehicles, household furnishings as well as clothes and recreational goods. 
  • There are no major congestion issues currently at US ports, Savannah currently has 8 ships waiting to berth while Long Beach and Houston have 6 and 3 ships respectively.


  • The Port of Hamburg container volumes fell in 2022 when compared with 2021. 
    • In 2022 the port handled 8.3 million TEU which represents a 5.1% decrease from 2021 volumes.
    • Despite a positive trend at the beginning of 2022, throughput fell steeply by 12.3 % in the fourth quarter.
    • The sharp decline has been attributed to rising energy costs and high inventory levels among retailers.
  • The Port of Gothenburg has been named the best logistics location in Sweden.
    • The port is Sweden’s largest cargo hub and handles 30% of Swedish imports and exports along with  more than half of all container freight.
    • The ranking is founded on access to a logistics base, flows and geography, infrastructure, land access, know-how and skills, and the collaborative climate throughout the region.
    • The ranking is conducted annually by leading Swedish industry magazine, Intelligent Logistik.


  • Brexit has ushered in new traffic to ports in Ireland and France as UK ports are bypassed.
    • Following the introduction of customs checks and delays of moving goods through the Dover-Calais crossing, many businesses are opting to ship between Cherbourg and Rosslare.
    • In 2019, when the UK was still in the Brexit transition period, fewer than 35,000 HGVs passed through the Normandy port on their way to Ireland. The average over the past two years, with Britain out of the EU’s regulatory orbit, was 96,000.
    • For the Port of Rosslare freight to and from mainland Europe soared from just 36,000 units in 2019 to 125,000 in 2021, and 137,000 in 2022. Meanwhile, freight to and from Britain fell from 104,000 units in 2019 to 65,000 in 2021 and 63,500 last year.


  • UK industry leaders have met with Rishi Sunak to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol.
    • Industry leaders are seeking free movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and a reduction in the administrative and cost burdens.
    • Some haulage operators have reported that currently the transit can take an extra day or two which adds considerable cost.

European Bank Holidays

We anticipate a shortage of availability and the occurrence of delays around the bank holiday periods. Plan ahead and allow extra time for your products to be delivered.

February 28 – Spain*

March 1 – Bosnia Herzegovina*, Spain *, Switzerland* 

March 3 – Belgium 

March 8 – Belarus, Germany*, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine

March 11 – Lithuania

March 13 – Spain*

March 15 – Hungary

March 17 – Ireland (Eire)

March 19 – Austria*, Malta

March 20 – Spain*

March 25 – Cyprus, Greece

March 31 – Malta 

April 1 – Cyprus, San Marino

April 6 – Andorra*, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat), Iceland, Norway, Portugal*, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Switzerland*

April 7 – Andorra, Austria*, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France*, Germany, Gibraltar, Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat), Guernsey and Alderney, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland (Eire)*, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein*, Luxembourg*, Malta, Netherlands*, Norway, Portugal, Saint Helena, Slovakia, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, Switzerland*, UK (United Kingdom), Åland (Ahvenanmaa)

*Not in all regions

The route ahead

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