Canada’s imports and exports fell slightly last year to respectively C$547 billion and C$521 billion, when much uncertainty prevailed in shipping and global economic trends, but leading Canadian ports on the East Coast managed to either maintain or recover a growth pattern.
In part, this could be attributed to improving world commodity prices (impacting especially on such bulk-dominant ports as Sept-Iles and Quebec). Otherwise, sustained demand from Asia and signs of more life from lackluster Europe stimulated port activity.
And a surprise element has come from the Canadian economy which has tended to lag behind the United States in GDP performance.
Latest figures from Statistics Canada show the Canadian economy progressing at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent in January. This continues the rapid pace recorded in Q4 2016 when GDP expanded by 2.6 percent. “Given the rip-roaring start to the quarter and the nice hand-off from late last year, even tiny gains in the next two months will yield quarterly growth of well over three percent,” commented BMO economist Doug Porter.
Port of Montreal Leading the Upswing
The Port of Montreal, Canada’s second biggest port after Vancouver, continued its upward momentum in 2016, with an increase of 10 percent sparking a new record for total cargo at 35.2 million metric tons. Substantial increases in grain shipments and liquid bulk boosted overall throughput.
The Port of Montreal also came very close in 2016 to matching its container summit of nearly 1.5 million TEU set in 2015.
“Our traffic is pretty balanced between imports and exports,” Tony Boemi, VP Growth and Development, told the American Journal of Transportation.
While Europe is the traditional core market, with three of every five containers imported, Asia, led by China, is a fast-growing trading partner, Boemi indicated.
Thanks to its deep inland location on the St. Lawrence River in relation to the industrial heartland of North America and its extensive intermodal connections, Mr. Boemi said Montreal was well-positioned for ocean carriers serving markets in Eastern Canada and the US Midwest…
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