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Economy

Southeast Asian ports thirst for more seaborne trade

Lack of adequate transport infrastructure crippling region's competitiveness

Ships lie at anchor in front of a refinery on Singapore's Bukom Island.   © Reuters

JAKARTA The world's seaborne trade exceeded 10 billion tons in a single year for the first time in 2015, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, with about 60% passing through Asia.

Situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans, Southeast Asia's sprawling archipelagos should be well placed to capitalize as trade expands. Indonesia and the Philippines comprise about 17,000 and 7,500 islands respectively, while Indonesia, home to the world's fourth-biggest population -- about 260 million people -- has the second-longest coastline after Canada.

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