By Brian Dunn

The Transport Logistic conference and trade show is held every two years in Munich. It is billed as the largest show of its kind in Europe, attracting over 2,375 exhibitors from 63 countries and some 64,000 visitors from 125 countries with over 125,000 square metres of exhibition space. This year’s event was held June 4-7. To promote itself on a global scale, CargoM, the Logistics and Transportation Cluster of Metropolitan Montreal, organized a mission to the show.

“It attracts all the top ports in the world and a lot of our clients were present as well,” said CargoM Executive Director Mathieu Charbonneau. “It’s held every two years, alternating between Munich and Asia. Next time, we should have a Quebec kiosk involving major players like Port of Montreal, CN and CP and other transportation and logistics companies.”

Other members of the mission included Montreal Port Authority, Logistec Corporation, Fonds de Solidarité FTQ, Air Canada Cargo and Metro Canada Logistics. The group also visited other European ports, including the HHLA container terminal in Hamburg where it saw real time driverless trucks and cranes in operation.

But the biggest initiative CargoM was involved in this year was the launch of the Montreal area Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Designation, the 13th granted by the Economic Development Agency of Canada. Under the designation, the purchase or import of raw materials, inputs or finished products are exempted from custom duties and taxes, so long as they are re-exported. The raw materials and finished products can be stored for four years, then processed or assembled in the FTZ for re-export. If the products are sold in Canada, the taxes and duties are deferred until they enter the domestic market.

The FTZ is designed to attract importers and exporters, manufacturers and distribution centres and to increase international competitiveness.

As part of the program, the federal government will pay two-thirds of the salary of a full-time employee for three years to coordinate the initiative, with the remaining third paid by CargoM. It has hired Christian Kamudimba as its FTZ coordinator who has a background in FTZ implementation and coordination. “It’s perfect timing, because under the free trade agreement with Europe (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement or CETA), we’re seeing more imports, but not so much on the export side and this should help the smaller players get into the game,” said Mr. Charbonneau. He noted Port of Montreal has seen trade with Europe increase 12 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 which is largely attributed to CETA.

When CargoM launched six years ago, it had 28 members. Today, the number has doubled. New additions this year include Lowe’s Canada, Air Canada Cargo, ACS Logistics, Synergie Canada, Danaca Transport and Courchesne Larose, a major fruit and vegetable wholesaler, importer and exporter. And there are more companies approaching CargoM to join the cluster today than in earlier years when it was was doing more soliciting, noted Mr. Charbonneau. “One of the reasons Courchesne Larose joined us is because we have been targeting the agri-food business as an area of tremendous growth potential. We’re also looking to do more fruit and vegetable importing from Europe to offset the current instability in the U.S. market.”

Marc Gagnon, Director, Government Affairs and Regulatory Compliance at Fednav Ltd., has stepped down from the Board of Directors at CargoM which is looking for his replacement. Mathieu Casey, Director, Cargo Revenue Management and Business Strategy, Air Canada Cargo, and Stéphane Lapierre, Vice President, Airport Operations and Air Services Development, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), have joined the Board.

“We want to restart our air freight committee since ADM is investing more at Mirabel to increase its freight operations,” explained Mr. Charbonneau.

Another initiative undertaken by CargoM was industrial visits for its members to trucking company Groupe Robert and Richelieu Hardware, an importer, distributor and manufacturer of specialty hardware with over 80,000 customers across North America. The goal of the visits is to see the latest trends in logistics operations.

During the past few years, refrigerated containers both on the import and export side have been a growing business at the port of Montreal, and growth is expected to continue under CETA, putting pressure on existing cold storage facilities in the Greater Montreal region. A study is being undertaken to get a better understanding of future cold storage needs which CargoM is participating in. “The next step is to define and characterize all segments of the cold chain involved in the international shipment of refrigerated goods door-to-door, both for import and export. This characterization will identify capacity issues across the chain, strong and weak links in the chain and business development opportunities in Greater Montreal,” outlined Mr. Charbonneau.

CargoM is holding another Career Day on November 5 at the new cruise ship terminal in Old Montreal which attracted some 1,800 attendees and over 60 companies last year. Mr. Charbonneau expects over 2,000 people to attend this year’s event. “It’s an opportunity to put employers and potential employees together. And it’s not a trucking or shipping or rail career day, but a logistics chain career day.”

CargoM plans to attend Cargo Logistics Canada in Vancouver next year and wants to get more people from Quebec to also attend. In addition, it has received a lot of enquiries from industries along the Highway 401 corridor, and plans to make presentations to several of them in the new year.

And while fluidity, economic development and promotion are the three main areas of Cargo’s activities, it will add a fourth area, namely the environment.