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HomePorts & TerminalsBigger is not always better and here is proof from a port...

Bigger is not always better and here is proof from a port performance perspective..!!

  • Yangshan and Salalah maintain top honours in port performance in 2023
  • Charleston shows the best-improved port performance in 2023 vs 2022
  • All South African ports were among the worst performers in 2023

As we have seen and heard often, maritime transport is the backbone of global trade offering the most cost-effective, energy-efficient, and dependable mode of transportation for over 80% of global merchandise trade by volume..

As per the World Bank, about 35% of the total volume and over 60% percent in commercial value of these goods are carried in containers mostly on container ships calling at dedicated container terminals around the world..

The ubiquitous shipping container recently celebrated its 68th birthday with around 866 million TEUs shipped globally in 2023 and projected to reach 988 million TEUs by 2027..!!

Impact on Ports & Terminals

As I write this, however, container shipping is going through a rather tumultuous and confusing time in terms of freight rates ostensibly driven by port congestion, longer transit times, and equipment shortages which in turn, have been attributed to geo-political activities around the world..

Ports and terminals around the world play a hugely important role in global trade and naturally, the performance of these ports and terminals, especially container terminals is of major importance for the terminal operators and the users such as container shipping lines, truckers, importers, exporters, freight forwarders and all the associated service providers..

For the past 4 years, the Transport Global Practice of the World Bank has been producing the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI), in collaboration with the Global Intelligence & Analytics division of S&P Global Market Intelligence..

The CPPI is a very useful metric to measure this exact requirement by the stakeholders..

What does the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) mean..??

The CPPI is a comparable assessment of a port/terminal’s performance that allocates a ranking on the basis of the time that a vessel spends in a port measured over a period of time (say for the year of 2023)..

The CPPI 2023 shows that the biggest ports handling the biggest volumes are not necessarily the best in terms of performance and efficiency..

Let me illustrate this with some facts..

Every year, Lloyds List releases the list of the Top 100 container ports in the world by container volume handled..

  • If we look at that list and use the USA as an example, the USA’s top-ranked port by volume was Los Angeles coming in at 16th out of 100 ports globally in 2023.. However, in terms of performance, in the CPPI ranking, Los Angeles ranked 375th out of 405 in 2023 which is 39 places lower compared to its ranking in 2022..
  • On the opposite coast, the Port of New York/New Jersey which was ranked 17th in terms of volume was ranked 92nd out of 405 in terms of performance out of 405 in 2023 improving a massive 214 places compared to 2022..
  • Staying in the East, Charleston was the USA’s highest-ranked port in the CPPI 2023 coming in at 53rd place moving an impressive 287 places (highest in the list) compared to 2022 whereas, in terms of volumes, it was ranked 77th out of 100 ports in the Lloyds List..
  • Mersin port in Turkey recorded the worst performance in 2023 dropping 291 places coming in at 403rd out of 405 compared to its position of 112 in 2022..
  • Cartagena in Colombia was ranked 68th in terms of container volumes but ranked 3rd in terms of its performance up 2 places from 2022 while Salalah ranked 44th in terms of container volumes and stayed at number 2 in terms of performance in 2023..
  • Shanghai’s Yangshan had the best performance in 2023 (same as 2022) coming in at number 1 in both lists..
  • Much further South, in South Africa, Durban was the only port in the Lloyds 100 ports by volume in the 79th position out of 100 ports.. In the CPPI, Durban featured at position 398, a deterioration of 57 places compared to 2022..

The other 3 major container ports in South Africa were competing at the bottom of the table.. Port Elizabeth had the highest drop in 2023 compared to 2022, dropping 100 places from 291 in 2022 to 391 in 2023, Ngqura dropped 66 places coming in at 404 and Cape Town came in dead last at position 405 dropping 61 places..

Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) 2023

Why is this ranking important and who needs it..??

Container terminals often have service issues and pressures leading to supply chain disruptions, additional expenses, and reduced competitiveness for the city, its surroundings, and the country..

Poor performance at a container terminal along the route can impact the entire shipping schedule and the rotation of the ship, increase import and export costs for customers and hinder economic growth in the country..

As per the World Bank, “The CPPI is intended, as in its earlier iterations, to serve as a reference point for improvement for key stakeholders in the global economy, including national governments, port authorities and operators, development agencies, supranational organizations, various maritime interests, and other public and private stakeholders in trade, logistics, and supply chain services.

Port efficiency and ship turnaround time at all the ports of call are important metrics for operators, and monitoring port performance has become an increasingly important undertaking in the competitive landscape..

Accordingly, the 2023 edition of the CPPI focuses exclusively on quayside performance measuring the operational efficiency of how ports receive, and handle container ships.. This measure is critically important for the container ship operator – the port’s primary customer to decide which port/terminal to choose over other options..

How is the CPPI calculated..??

The CPPI utilizes empirical data to compare container port performance among different ports, over time with the primary measure being customer experience, specifically the speed and efficiency with which customer assets are handled..

The report states “The CPPI is based on available empirical objective data pertaining exclusively to time expended in a vessel stay in a port and should be interpreted as an indicative measure of container port performance, but not a definitive one.

This iteration of the CPPI has used data from the entire calendar year of 2023, ensuring that only ports with a minimum of 24 valid port calls within this period are included and these port calls must allow for the calculation of port hours..

405 ports out of 508 ports met this criterion and have therefore been included in the CPPI 2023 main index with these 405 ports collectively recording 182,855 distinct port calls..

The CPPI is calculated solely based on the average port hours per port call.. As per the report’s definition, Port Call refers to “A call to a container port/terminal by a container vessel where at least one container was discharged or loaded” and Port hours refers toThe number of hours a ship spends at/ in port, from arrival at the port limits to sailing from the berth”..

Steps of a Port Call

The methodology breaks down each port call into six distinct steps to measure total port time:

  1. Arrival at Port Limits: The ship arrives at the port limits or anchorage zone
  2. All Lines Fast: The ship is fully secured at the berth
  3. First Lift: Cargo operations commence
  4. Last Lift: Cargo operations conclude
  5. All Lines Up: The ship departs from the berth
  6. Exit Port Limits: The ship exits the port limits

Port Performance Metrics

As per the report, the CPPI follows the below performance metrics:

  • Total Port Time: The time elapsed from the ship’s arrival at port limits to its departure from the port limits.
  • Arrival Time: The time from arrival at port limits to all lines fast.
  • Berth Time: The time from all lines fast to all lines up.
  • Cargo Operations Time: The time from first lift to last lift.
  • Idle Time: The time a ship is idle at the berth before or after cargo operations.


The comparison between the CPPI 2022 and 2023 highlights the dynamic nature of global port performance.. 55 new entrants to the CPPI 2023 notwithstanding, 100 ports/terminals improved their ranking in 2023 compared to 2022..

Some of the biggest movers improved by more than 200 places which is something of an achievement..

Out of the top 10 container ports in the world, 5 showed improvement and 4 showed marginal deterioration while 1 stayed status quo at number 1..

The CPPI remains a valuable tool for stakeholders to benchmark performance and identify areas for improvement..

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. Some times cargo intermdiaries like the freight forwarders dont know how to explain an idle time or an anchorage time. This article is very valuable to educate the public not only the directly involved industry but every one.

    Thank you


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