Montreal strategically located between world’s two largest economic blocs

The new economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU) is expected to provide significant benefits for the Port of Montreal.

“We are the leading port on the North American East Coast for trade between Northern Europe and North America’s industrial heartland,” said Sylvie Vachon, president and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). “With our strategic location between the world’s two largest economic blocs, the EU and NAFTA, the Port of Montreal is the natural gateway for Europe.”

Ocean transit time between Montreal and Europe is only eight days. In North America, the port provides access to 40 million consumers within one trucking day and another 70 million consumers within two rail days.

European markets, including the Mediterranean, already represent 39 per cent of total traffic and close to 65 per cent of container traffic moving through the port. Moreover, the province of Quebec accounts for 35 per cent of Canadian exports moving to Europe. These exports, in particular those transported by container, move for the most part through the Port of Montreal.

Additionally, 98 per cent of Quebec importers and exporters and 93 per cent of Ontario exporters and importers choose the Port of Montreal to reach European markets.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced on October 18 an agreement in principle on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU. One week later, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Public Security and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, accompanied by representatives of the business sector, participated in a press conference at the MPA administration building to discuss the accord.

The federal ministers said that workers and companies from the major sectors of Quebec’s economy will benefit greatly from the deal.

Among the main exports that will benefit from the new agreement are agri-food products such as pork and beef, and certain finished and semi-finished products such as aeronautic parts, and pulp and paper.

“This agreement looks fantastic for the Port of Montreal,” said Brian Slack, a geography, planning and environment professor at Concordia University in Montreal and an expert on maritime transport and intermodality. “Europe is the Port of Montreal’s main overseas trading partner, and the port is already reaping the benefits of trade with this market. The contacts, the sales teams, the infrastructure already are there.

“This agreement can really only benefit Montreal. It will be a plus for attracting types of goods – western beef, for example – that could be exported out of Montreal.”