Chattogram port has been ranked as Asia's least efficient trade hub for handling containers, according to a new report by the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Responsible for about 98% of all containerised trade with the world, the country's main seaport has dropped 43 notches to rank 341st out of 370 ports in the global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) 2021 released Wednesday.
The second edition of the index is based on the time vessels needed to spend at a port to complete workloads and ranks them to determine which of the world's ports are the most efficient.
In 2020, Chattogram port ranked 298th among 351 ports reviewed by the Washington-based global lender.
The 2021 index considered two approaches to defining port efficiency – statistical and administrative. The resulting index has both positive and negative values.
The highest positive index value is allocated to the best performing port, while the most negative value is assigned to the port with the worst performance.
When a port uses more port time than the average for all ports, the index points become negative.
Chattogram port, which handles about 92% of international trade in Bangladesh, scored negative in both the approaches: -109.249 and -54.949 in the administrative and statistical approaches, respectively.
However, when contacted Chittagong Port Authority Secretary Mohammad Omar Farooq said the ranking was based on the size of container ships arriving at the port.
"It was not anything related to port performance," he said, and claimed that Chattogram port was improving on the performance index.
Port performance in South Asia
The report included the performance of 15 ports from four South Asian countries – one each from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, two from Pakistan, and 11 from India.
All the container ports in the region, other than Chattogram, ranked well above 110 places out of 370 in the administrative approach.
Unlike Chattogram, every port had a positive index point, meaning that they took less time to handle containers than the global average in 2021. The ports scored between 40 and 120 index points.
Sri Lanka's Colombo port outperformed the rest of South Asia to rank 24th out of 370 with an index score of 117.5, followed by India's Pipavav port at 26th.
The Muhammad Bin Qasim port – 81st in the world – came out as Pakistan's best performing container port and had an index point of 51.
Middle Eastern, Chinese ports dominate top 10
Ports in the Middle East took four of the top five places in the 2021 index.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Port is now the most efficient gateway in the world, followed by its counterparts Port Salalah in Oman, Hamad Port in Qatar, with Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi rounding out the top five.
Three of the large Chinese gateways, Shanghai (Yangshan), Ningbo, and the southern port of Guangzhou, feature in the top 10.
Meanwhile, last year's most efficient port – Yokohama in Japan – dropped to 10th place this time.
Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two largest ports of the United States, ranked as the world's least efficient for containers, followed by Vancouver in Canada.
Martin Humphreys, Lead Transport Economist at the World Bank said, "Inefficient ports represent a significant risk for many developing countries in that they can hinder economic growth, harm employment, and increase costs for importers and exporters."
"In the Middle East, heavy investments in container port infrastructure and technology are proving to be effective," he added.