Singapore leads the world in providing logistics capacity to facilitate trade, according to Connecting to Compete 2012: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy, a new report issued by the World Bank.
The United States scored ninth out of the 155 national economies ranked by the Logistics Performance Index (LPI), a compilation of six metrics that measure a nation's logistics performance. The United States was ranked 15th in the last report, which was issued in 2010. The first report of this type was published in 2007.
Germany held the top spot in 2010, but it fell to fourth in the most recent findings.
To develop their country rankings, World Bank economists gathered 6,000 individual country assessments from nearly 1,000 international freight forwarders. Each forwarder rated the eight foreign countries it serves most often.
In the report, Singapore scored highest in two of the six categories: The efficiency of the customs-clearance process, and the frequency with which shipments reached consignees within the expected or scheduled delivery times. Singapore's lowest scores were in the ability to track and trace consignments, and in the competence and quality of logistics services. However, it still finished sixth out of 155 countries in the latter two categories.
The United States' highest score was in the track and trace category, where it finished third. Its lowest rank—17th—came in the category "ease of arranging competitively priced shipments."
According to the report, high-income economies dominate the top logistics rankings, but logistics performance is not determined solely by a country's per-capita income. Infrastructure was the main driver of progress among the top performers, followed by improvements in logistics services, and customs and border management, according to Mona Haddad, sector manager of the World Bank's International Trade Department. "All top performers show strong cooperation between the public and private sectors, and a comprehensive approach in the development of services, infrastructure, and efficient logistics," she said in a statement.
The report stated that the logistics quality gap between high- and low-performing countries, which had narrowed between 2007 and 2010, did not narrow further during the past two years. That lack of progress, the report said, likely reflected decisions by governments to shift priorities from logistics reform to combating the global economic downturn and the European sovereign debt crisis.
Researchers also queried respondents about the frequency with which shippers request environmentally friendly options for transporting their cargo. More than 30 percent of the respondents said shippers always ask for environmentally friendly alternatives when shipping to high-income, developed nations. However, only 10 percent of respondents said shippers are equally environmentally conscious when shipping to low-income, less-developed countries.
The top 10 countries for trade logistics identified by the World Bank were as follows: