Singapore tops the latest edition of the World Bank's Logistic Performance Index (LPI), from 155 countries, followed by Hong Kong, Finland, Germany (dropping from top spot), the Netherlands, the US making the biggest leap to ninth rank from 15th two years ago, and the UK slipping to tenth, according to the Shipping Gazette.
The logistics gap is widening between those in the bottom 10, all low-income countries with eight in Africa, and the top 10 high-income countries since 2010 following three years of improvement by lower performing countries to improve their LPI scores. This trend was attributed to logistics reform being assigned less importance in favour of global events like the recession and the European debt crisis.
For these bottom 10 ranked African countries, all are hindered by conflict and natural disasters affecting access to markets, other than Djibouti and Burundi in central Africa, said the World Bank report.
The impact of this on developing countries, and particularly those that are landlocked and poor, means that the cost of transport and logistics bumps up food prices between 20 and 60 per cent.
"Transport and logistics directly affect the price and local availability of food through the performance and resilience of food chains, especially in African and Middle Eastern countries that depend heavily on food imports," the bank said.
Infrastructure is key to progress for the top performers, with logistics services and Customs and border management coming close second and third, said World Bank's International Trade Manager, Ms Mona Haddad. "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."