Najim Shaikh, vice-president commercial import for MSC, sees Canada as a steady, reliable growth market for containerized cargo in the years ahead at key ports benefiting from substantial infrastructure and capacity investments as well as waterfront stability through labour agreements extending to 2018 in the cases of Montreal, Vancouver and Prince Rupert and until 2022 in Saint John.
Giving a keynote speech today (Feb. 17) in Montreal at the third annual Cargo Logistics Canada Expo and Conference staged by the Informa group, Shaikh forecast that between now and 2020 container cargo through Canadian ports will increase by 900.000 TEUs to 6.7 million TEUs.
“If you ask the question of what we see in Canada, the answer is we see growth,” he told a two-day event attended by some 2,500 stakeholders in Canadian supply chains.
Referring to the carrier’s overall approach and expanding presence in Canada in recent years, he added: “We bring ships to cargo, not cargo to ships.”
MSC offers eight port calls per week in four Canadian gateways. Four independent services are operated by MSC which is also a partner in three joint services.
Shaikh noted that as in the United States “something of a shift is taking place from west to east in Canada.”
He said that Vancouver’s trade imports destined for eastern Canada have not been growing as rapidly as total imports. “And certainly the Port of Montreal has seen a big surge in imports from Asia.”
In 2015, Asia accounted for 17% of Montreal box trade versus a marginal volume a decade earlier.
Commenting on a trade shift that has been developing on Canada’s west coast, Shaikh observed: “We see Vancouver continuing to build capacity but more for the Vancouver local market. We see Prince Rupert from a Canadian perspective moving cargo into locations set up over the last five years in Alberta.”
Earlier, Shaikh said that on the global shipping arena two maritime battles are underway – “one between the west coast and east coast ports (in North America) and the other between the Panama and Suez canals.”