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UNCTAD liner shipping connectivity index

In its Review of Maritime Transport 2017 the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published its latest Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI) which now uses data supplied by MDS Transmodal from its Containership Databank.  UNCTAD’s key role is in supporting developing countries to access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively.

The index, originally developed by UNCTAD in 2004, is used as an indicator to compare and analyse countries’ positions within the global liner shipping network. It is generated from the schedules of the world’s container shipping fleet and uses five components: the number of ships deployed to and from each country’s seaports, their combined container-carrying capacity, the number of companies that provide regular services, the number of services and the size of the largest ship.

The result for China in 2004 is used as the base for the LSCI, against which other countries are ranked and compared over time.

Countries that are hubs for global trade or have developed a strong transhipment role in global liner shipping networks have amongst the highest LSCI indices.   Thus, compared with China (index in 2017 of 158.8), Singapore (115.1), the Republic of Korea (109.9) Hong Kong (105.4), Malaysia (98.1), the Netherlands (86.4) and the United States (86.3), and countries such as the United Arab Emirates (73.7), Sri Lanka (69.4) Morocco (67.0) and Oman (63.6) are found near the top of the list. For the latter four countries the index has displayed a rapid and almost uninterrupted rise despite the global financial crisis in 2009.  Behind that growth has been the formation of container shipping networks largely around the ports of Jebel Ali, Colombo, Tangier Med and Salalah.  Among other notable changes is the progression of Iran, where the index started at 13.7 in 2004, suffered a dramatic fall to 5.8 in 2014 due to the impact of economic sanctions and has now recovered to 40.8 in 2017 as the country becomes more integrated into global shipping networks.

Allied with an understanding of the dynamics of global liner shipping and trade, the LCSI can be used to inform maritime policy making and decision making around the world.