Country and Port Level Liner Shipping Connectivity Index

Country and Port Level Liner Shipping Connectivity Index 2023

Source: UNCTAD and MDS Transmodal. No data for landlocked countries. Note: Annual index is the average of the year’s four quarters.

The Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI) aims to capture the level of integration into the existing liner shipping network by measuring liner shipping connectivity. It can be calculated at the country and the port level. LSCI can be considered a proxy for accessibility to global trade through the shipping network. The higher the index, the easier it is to access a high capacity and frequency global maritime freight transport system and effectively participate in international trade. Therefore, LSCI can be jointly considered as a measure of connectivity to maritime shipping and as a measure of trade facilitation. It reflects the strategies of container shipping lines seeking to maximize revenue through market coverage. The index is calculated based on six major components:

  • Scheduled ship calls. This concerns the number of ships that are calling on a weekly basis. These calls can involve imports, exports, or transshipment activities. In the case of a high level of transshipment calls, the number of ship calls can be somewhat misleading as those calls are not related to connectivity to the global trade system but to the presence of a transshipment hub. Still, maritime services remain available for importers and exporters.
  • Deployed capacity. The previous measure is mainly linked with the frequency of services, while adding the total capacity of these services enables a link between port calls and the related physical capacity. The higher the capacity, the greater the potential to trade on global markets. However, it does not necessarily mean that the capacity is available for imports or exports.
  • Number of shipping companies and liner services. This relates to how many shipping companies are servicing the country or the port as well as how many scheduled services they are using to provide this coverage.
  • Average vessel size. A proxy to the available economies of scale since they convey lower shipping costs per TEU. A limited number of ports are able to accommodate ships in excess of 8,000-10,000 TEU. Those who can have higher connectivity.
  • Directly connected ports. This is number of ports that are directly connected to the reference port. Due to the structure of maritime shipping services oriented along a sequence of port calls (loops), a direct connection implies that a port is connected to another as long as they are part of that loop and that any container carried between them does not need to be transshipped.

In the initial index, the country or port that received the highest score in the reference year of 2006 was assigned a value of 100, which serves as a benchmark to assign value to other ports and countries. In 2024, the LSCI was updated so that 100 refers to the average score of all ports.

The distribution of the port LSCI reveals a high concentration level among a small group of highly connected ports that are the gateways and hubs of global trade. The countries with the highest LSCI values are actively involved in international trade. Namely, the export-oriented economies of China and Hong Kong rank first, with the Singapore transshipment hub ranking third. Large traders such as the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, the United States, and Japan rank among the top 15. Countries such as Malaysia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Oman also rank high because of the major transshipment function their ports perform.