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Shanghai Targets 47 Million TEU Annually Through Growth and Automation

growth and automation Shanghai container port
Shanghai is the world's largest container prot handling 43.5 million TEU in 2020 (file photo)

Published Jul 9, 2021 3:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

Already the busiest container port in the world, Chinese officials announced an ambitious plan to further expand Shanghai by 2025. The efforts to enlarge the regional port operations and enhance the use of technology are part of the fourteenth five-year plan that also encompasses cruise ship operations and air travel. 

Shanghai's international influence is steadily growing, according to Yu Fulin, director of the Shanghai Municipal Transport Commission, who detailed the new five-year plan for the region. In the past five years, the plan notes that Shanghai has become an international shipping center and acquired the preliminary capability of allocating global shipping resources.

Despite the impact of the pandemic on shipping in the first half of 2020, Shanghai saw a small increase in overall container throughput to 43.5 million TEU last year. That was up just a half a percent over 2019, but was more than enough to maintain Shanghai’s position as the busiest container port for more than a decade. The port achieved strong gains in both transshipments and inland volumes during the year. 

Container throughput at the Shanghai port hit a record high of 4.2 million TEUs in October, a year-over-year increase of 15.7 percent, according to official data released by the Chinese authorities. The new record exceeded July’s 3.9 million TEUs, and also made Shanghai the first container port to exceed the 4 million TEU mark in a single month.

The new plan calls for an overall eight percent growth in TEU volumes in the port over the five-year period. By 2025, they are forecasting that Shanghai will handle 47 million TEU annually.

"In accordance with the central government's new strategy, and following the new requirements for the development as a shipping center, Shanghai will try its best to build a hub and strategic nexus under the new dual-circulation development pattern, government officials said according to China Daily. “Shanghai will upgrade itself into a world-class international shipping center with convenience, high efficiency, full functions, eco-friendliness, and strong safeguards by 2025."

Among the projects outlined by the plan are efforts to optimize operations, further integrate port operations across the region, and introducing new technologies to improve shipping services. They are also seeking to enhance the cruise port operations.

Building on the current automation efforts at the port, the government is targeting expanding the handling of containers at the automated terminal. The terminal is currently capable of handling up to five million TEU annually through the automated operations with a goal of handling 30 million TEUs in the next five years. They also plan to increase the automated capacity to seven million TEU annually.