The world's busiest port handled more than 25.8 million TEUs last year. Although the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore reported a 10% jump in March from a year earlier, the 2.4 million containers shipped that month is still below the port's highest monthly record of 2.7 million TEUs reached in July 2008.
China became the world's biggest exporter after surpassing Germany last year, and Shanghai was its busiest port with just over 25 million TEUs passing through its facilities. The country's biggest port operator, Shanghai International Port Group, posted a profit of 1 billion yuan ($149 million) in the first quarter after its container throughput rose 15.5%.
3.Hong Kong, China
Controlled by the billionaire Li Ka-shing, Hutchison Port Holdings is the world's largest container port operator with terminals in six of the nine busiest ports around the world. In Hong Kong, it operates 12 berths through its subsidiary and another two through a joint venture with COSCO. Last year Hong Kong handled almost 21 million containers.
The second-busiest port on the mainland has been expanding its market share in southern China at the expense of Hong Kong due to its proximity to the factories along the Pearl River Delta. China Merchants Holdings is the largest container port operator in Shenzhen, which processed over 18 million containers in 2009.
5.Busan, South Korea
South Korea's busiest port handled almost 12 million containers last year. Hanjin Shipping, the country's largest container line, expects to return to profitability this year. The company's CEO, Kim Young Min, is the current chairman of the 12-member Transpacific Stabilization Agreement, a shipping cartel that seeks to raise rates through cooperation rather than competition.
The third port from a southern Chinese city in the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou saw just over 11.1 million TEUs pass through its facilities last year. The largest operator is the state-owned Guangzhou Port Group.
DP World, the world's fourth-biggest container-terminal operator, is controlled by Dubai World, the state-owned holding company that recently had to restructure $23.5 billion of debt. DP World is seeking to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange. Last year 11.1 million containers passed through Dubai's port.
More than 10.5 million containers were handled by Ningbo Port, which competes with its much larger and nearby rival Shanghai International Port. Ningbo Port announced in December that it plans to raise about 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) through a Shanghai listing in the first half of 2010.
Dry-bulk carriers lining up at ports like Qingdao and Newcastle in Australia reflect the growing demand for raw materials. Last year Qingdao's container terminals processed 10.2 million TEUs.
Europe's largest port reported that container throughput rose 16% to 2.6 million TEUs during the first quarter due largely to Asian trade. Almost 10 million containers passed through Rotterdam in 2009. The port reported that shipping traffic had increased sharply last quarter, particularly iron ore and scrap, other dry bulk and mineral oil products.