With the possibility of a free trade agreement with Europe on the horizon, the Port of Montreal is preparing for future growth.
With its strong emphasis on general cargo, the Port of Montreal has managed to be largely shielded from the plunge in global commodity markets that has sharply hit such bulk-dominant St. Lawrence River ports as Quebec and Sept-Iles. Indeed, Montreal has gained traction, surging to second place among Canadian ports after Vancouver for total cargo and maintaining its market share with NY/NJ and other competing U.S. East Coast ports for North Atlantic container business.
In this regard, Tony Boemi, vice-president, growth and development of the Montreal Port Authority, notes that Montreal posted record performances for total and container traffic in 2015.
The port completed 2015 with 32 million metric tons of cargo, an increase of 5.2% over the previous year.
“Specifically, we saw an increase of 4.1% in container tonnage, 7.8% in liquid bulk, 4% for dry bulk, including grain.
“We continue to attract cargo from emerging markets, specifically Asia and Latin America, which accounted for 17% and 5% respectively of the port’s total throughput of 1.45 million TEUs.”
According to Boemi, this pattern “is the result of business models which carriers are now employing with the mega vessels. It has been very challenging for ports on both coasts to handle the large vessels without service disruptions. This is in part causing carriers to transload containers at transshipment hubs and offering direct sailings to Montreal.”
Known for its fluid operation, excellent intermodal links and geographic location in proximity to major consumer markets in North America, Boemi points out that 17% of the total container cargo transiting through Montreal is for the U.S. Midwest market.
Similarly bullish was Michael Fratianni, chief executive of Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership (MGT). The largest terminal operator at the port with its Racine and Cast container facilities, MGT recently adopted a new operating software system to optimize efficiency, heighten security and enhance customer service.
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