Canada’s East Coast ports target increased maritime trade

By: | Issue #609 | at 10:11 AM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  Ports  

Canada’s East Coast ports target increased maritime trade

Amidst an uncertain global environment, Canadian ports on the East Coast are pursuing a capacity expansion strategy to increase business and to potentially offer alternatives, in some cases, to lingering congestion issues at US ports on the eastern seaboard as well as on the West Coast.

Ports relying most on general cargo, notably Montreal and Halifax, are enjoying favourable trends in container activity. On the other hand, the recent plunge in commodity prices and fears of a deeper slowdown in China, the world’s primary driver of commodity demand, have hammered such bulk ports as Quebec and Sept-Iles on the St. Lawrence River.

In related developments, federal support for several large port projects was announced in recent weeks by a Conservative government seeking a return to power in a national election being held on October 19.

Although the Canadian economy showed virtually no growth in the first half of this year, partly due to the domino effect of depressed oil prices, the outlook was improving as fall approached and exports were showing a marked rebound thanks to robust demand from the United States and thanks to a weak Canadian dollar (hovering around 76 US cents) spurring sales abroad.

Montreal has Wind in its Sails

Among the leading Canadian ports on the East Coast, Montreal clearly has the wind in its sails. Ranked the second largest Canadian port after Port Metro Vancouver, Montreal’s strong performance in 2014 has carried over into 2015. Moreover, major projects and developments are in progress at a strategic gateway that has no congestion issues and is preparing in a big way to capitalize on anticipated increased North Atlantic trade upon the ratification (hopefully by 2016) of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement.

In 2014, the Port of Montreal handled a record 30.4 million metric tons of cargo, an increase of 8% from the previous year. Container traffic was up 4.2% at 1.4 million TEUs.

Sylvie Vachon, president and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) described these results as “very satisfying” within the context of a still fragile global economic climate.

As part of value-added services occurring at the port in 2014, one should note the inauguration of the CanEst Transit facility that cleans and containerizes agricultural products.


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American Journal of Transportation