British importers have a great deal of choice when it comes to choosing ports in China. Along with some of the better-known ones, like Shanghai and Macau, China has numerous lesser-known ports that are geared up for containerised transport. Shekou, Nanhai and Shantou are just three that you may never have even heard of. And yet, they all have their strengths which UK-based importers should not overlook.
Overall, it will depend on what you are importing and where your supplier is based to determine which Chinese port will be best given your circumstances. That’s why it is always good to rely on the expertise of a freight forwarding company. Nevertheless, some Chinese ports inevitably stand out from the rest as good places to start importing from. Let’s take a look at the top five in no particular order.
Many British importers understand the historical links when it comes to importing from Hong Kong which makes them feel more comfortable using the free port to import from mainland China. According to Barrington Freight, a Chinese importation specialist based in Essex, Hong Kong benefits from some of the lowest tax rates in Asia. It is suited to both free on board (FoB) and ex-works (EXW) imports. What’s more, the standard of English is very good in Hong Kong whether you are dealing with sea or air freight, something that some British importers find reassuring.
Ningbo is one of the most important ports in the whole country. Located about 140 miles from Shanghai, its central location on the East China Sea and its deep waters make it ideal for container ships of all kinds. According to a recent report by the International Association of Ports and Harbours, Ningbo offers the greatest growth potential and cost benefits of any Chinese port. It is certainly worth checking out this port if you are importing heavy cargo.
Shanghai’s port is under a three-hour drive from Ningbo, so you might well ask why you might consider one over the other? The major reason is that Shanghai is one of the busiest ports in the world. Therefore, if shipping items out quickly is important to you, Shanghai offers certain advantages. It is a good place, for example, to choose for less than container (LCL) loads since shippers will soon be able to marry up your consignment with others heading to the UK. Equally, many Chinese suppliers are used to it and, therefore, prefer it. This means it’s a good port for FoB importers to select.
If your supplier is in southern China, then you’ll often need to decide whether to choose the port of Shenzhen, also known as Yantian, or Guangzhou. The bottom line is that Shenzhen is one of the cheapest ports for goods to pass through. This is a good choice, therefore, if you are importing relatively low-value items with small margins associated with them.
Situated in the north of China, Tianjin has the largest storage yard capacity of any major Chinese port, so it is a good place to choose if you want to avoid potential bottlenecks. Northern China tends to be more industrial than the south which is more associated with manufactured products. As such, Tianjin may be the port for you if you are looking to import raw materials.