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Saudi Arabia jumps in global logistics ranking

SPG Cosco Oceania alongside at Dammam Port
Saudi Arabia has jumped up the rankings in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) 2023.

Saudi Arabia, which came in at 38, was ranked 55 in the 2018 report, and has seen its stock as a global logistics hub rise as it formulates plans for as many as 60 logistics hubs around the Kingdom, and contemplates wholesale upgrades of existing ports, as well as a number of greenfield facilities.

Identical rankings to Saudi Arabia were achieved by India, Lithuania, Portugal and Turkey, also all ranked 38-equal, with identical overall LPI scores of 3.4. The rankings were topped by Singapore, with a score of 4.2, with Finland coming second, also on 4.2 and Denmark third, with 4.1

“This progress came with the support of the Crown Prince and the ambitious goals of the National Strategy for Transport and Logistics Services,” said Minister of Transport and Logistics, Saleh Al-Jasser, in a statement carried by Saudi English-language daily, Arab News, on Sunday.

Afghanistan and Libya came bottom of the rankings, in 138-equal position, with LPI scores of 1.9.

Entitled ‘Connecting to Compete,’ the report, now in its seventh edition, attempts to rank 139 countries by their logistics performance in the first such survey to be published by the World Bank since 2018.

The LPI rankings use several factors, including customs, infrastructure, international shipments, logistics competence and equality timeliness, and tracking and tracing, to derive a set of scores which are then aggregated into one headline number. “Strong overall logistics performance is driven by good performance across all six LPI components,” the report said.

The report said mid-level logistics performers were showing progress. More countries scored higher in the LPI compared with previous years. The average overall country score has steadily risen over the past decade, with more countries clustered at an overall score of 3 to 4.

“Supply chain reliability is critical. For containers, the average time across all potential trade routes from entering the port of export to exiting the destination port is 44 days, with a standard deviation of 10.5 days. About 60 percent of the time it takes to trade goods internationally is spent at sea,” it said.

“But the biggest delays occur when containers are held up at the origin or destination-—at ports, airports, or multimodal facilities. Policies targeting these facilities, such as investing in port productivity, modernizing customs, and new technologies, can improve reliability.”

Although not aimed at Saudi Arabia, which was just outside the top quartile of performers, the World Bank said improving customs and infrastructure mattered most for raising the overall score of bottom performers. “The performance of customs and border agencies, as well as the quality of trade- and transport-related infrastructure, is particularly weak in the lowest performing countries,” it said.

“These countries, many of them in the Middle East and North Africa and in Sub-Saharan Africa, experience much longer delays than advanced and emerging economies and many middle-income countries. On average, export delays are of the same magnitude as import delays but for different reasons: export delays are tied more to the quality of service or to economies of scale.”