The Port of Shanghai is the busiest port in the world in terms of cargo tonnage and comprises a deep-sea port and a river port.

Located in Shanghai, China, the port covers an area of 3,619.6km² at the mouth of the Yangtze River. The port is considered the world’s fastest-growing economy.

Port of Shanghai background

The Port of Shanghai, which originally existed as Shen or Hudu between the fifth and seventh centuries AD, was given official city status in 1297 by the Yuan Dynasty. In 1684, ocean-going vessels were allowed to use the port courtesy of the Quing Dynasty, which helped the port to collect customs duty for all foreign trade and by 1735 it became the most significant seaport in the Yangtze region.

“The Port of Shanghai was given official city status in 1297 by the Yuan Dynasty.”

In 1842 the port opened for international trade and became a treaty port under the Treaty of Nanjing. It became more approachable when foreign countries were relieved of local rules and regulations after the Treaty of the Bogue in 1843 and the Sino-American Treaty of Wangsai in 1844.

After the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese became an important community and established the port’s first factory.

The port came under the control of China in 1949, a development that dramatically slowed down the foreign trade at the port. The port enjoyed economic and building booms when it was permitted to implement economic reforms in 1991 by the central government.

Shanghai International Port Group

The Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) is the sole authoritarian body that manages the public terminals in the port. The SIPG, a public listed company, came into existence in 2003 following the reorganisation of the Shanghai Port Authority. The major shareholders of the company are Shanghai Municipal Government (44.23%), China Merchants International Terminals (26.54%) and Shanghai Tongsheng Investment Group Corporation (16.81%).

SIPG handles domestic, national and international cargo transportation. It is also responsible for maintaining, manufacturing and leasing containers, as well as building, managing and operating the port facilities.

Out of the 125 berths that SIPG operates 82 can accommodate 10,000dwt class or higher vessels. As well as public bulk, breakbulk, specialised ro-ro terminal and cruise terminal, the company owns 5,143 units of cargo handling equipment.

Port terminals

Wusongkou, Waigaoqiao and Yangshan are the three main container port areas of the Port of Shanghai. The Wusongkou area is managed by Shanghai Container Terminals Company (SCT), a joint venture of Hutchison Port Holdings Limited (HPH) and SIPG. Zhanghuabang Terminal, Jungong Road Terminal and Baoshan Terminal are the three container terminals operated by SCT. The facilities provided by the company include: container cleaning and management, storage and transport, inland goods storage and electronic data interchange.

“SIPG is the sole authoritarian body that manages the public terminals at the Port of Shanghai.”

The Waigaoqiao area is operated by Shanghai Pudong International Container Terminals, SIPG Zhendong Container Terminal Branch, Shanghai East Container Terminal Company and Shanghai Mingdong Container Terminals Limited. Shanghai Pudong operates in a 500,000m² area and has 147 container handling equipment and machinery, 36 RTG, ten quay cranes, 73 container trucks and 11 forklifts. Shanghai Mingdong facilitates container handling, storage and transfer. Other works carried out by the company include maintaining, cleaning and stripping of containers.

Shanghai Shengdong International Container Terminal Company is responsible for operating Yangshan Deepwater Port. The port’s activities are carried out by 34 container quay cranes and 120 RTG. The terminal can handle containerised cargo of 2.2m TEU. The port is also facilitated by non-container terminals located on the Huangpu River. These terminals act as distribution centres for the remote areas of the port and contribute in the financial development of Yangtze River Valley.

Shanghai throughput

In 2006, the Port of Shanghai became the world’s third-largest container port when it achieved a container throughput of 21.71m TEU. In 2006 it handled 537 million tonnes of cargo, which was 21.1% higher than the previous year’s figure.

Total throughput for 2007, including 560 million tonnes of cargo, was over 26 million TEU. In 2008, the port handled 582 million tonnes of cargo and 28 million TEU, increases of 3.2% and 7%, respectively, over the previous year. In 2008, the port handled nearly 62,000 domestic and international ships. Cargo throughput registered by the port in 2009 was 590 million tonnes.

Port expansion

“Cargo throughput at the Port of Shanghai in 2009 was 590 million tonnes.”

Due to insufficient water depth at the port’s mainland, Yangshan Deepwater Port is being developed in four phases. This deepwater port, which is located in the East China Sea, is 30km from the mainland and a 32.5km long bridge connects it to the mainland.

Phase I terminal, which was opened in December 2005, was completed at an investment of $7.5bn. The terminal operates at a water depth of 16m and has five births. In the first year of its construction, the terminal handled 3.1 million TEU.

Phase II of the terminal was built with an investment of $7bn and opened for operation in December 2006. The terminal, which is capable of handling 2.1 million TEU, uses four berths. Phase III and IV are expected to be completed by 2010 and 2012 respectively. By 2012, the deepwater port will have 30 births and will be capable of handling 15 million TEU.