Canada-China relations the worst since Tiananmen

Canada-China relations the worst since Tiananmen

By Keith Norbury

The trade relationship between Canada and China is the worst it’s been in decades, according to experts who have studied the machinations of trade between the two nations. “No doubt, Canada-China relations are at a very low point,” said Jia Wang, Deputy Director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. “Probably one of the lowest points since the Tiananmen incident in 1989.”

The impetus for the deteriorating relationship was the arrest in Vancouver of a senior executive with state-owned Chinese electronics giant Huawei. Meng Wanzhou, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, has been in custody since her arrest on December 1 at the behest of the United States Department of Justice. The U.S. is seeking to extradite her on charges that a Huawei subsidiary allegedly committed bank and wire fraud charges that violated sanctions against Iran. On March 1, the Canadian government announced it would hold an extradition hearing. (more…)

Opinion – Let’s think carefully about the future of Canada’s Defence industries

Opinion – Let’s think carefully about the future of Canada’s Defence industries

Theo van de Kletersteeg

Prime Minister Trudeau is trying to pull Canada out of a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, he said on several occasions near the end of 2018, following allegations that suggest Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince was implicated in the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. “We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” he told CTV, without elaborating. The deal, worth US$14 billion over 14 years, if all options are exercised, and including spare parts, support and training, would supply the Saudi military with light armoured vehicles (LAVs) manufactured by General Dynamics Canada Land Systems Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. General Dynamics Corporation. The contract is the largest Defence export contract Canada has ever entered into. The PM’s comments represent an evolution in Ottawa’s stance toward Saudi Arabia. In March of 2018, he defended the deal for the armoured vehicles, saying that honouring the contract, which was made under a previous government, “fully meets our national obligations and Canadian laws.” Canada’s arms export laws prevent the sale of weapons to countries that “pose a threat to Canada and its allies, that are involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities, that are under United Nations Security Council sanctions; or whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” The last provision includes an exemption for countries where “it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.” (more…)

Seaway examining new traffic growth ideas

By Alex Binkley

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and its shipper and shipping partners are looking at old and new possibilities for growing traffic. Transshipping Prairie crude oil to refineries in Quebec and Saint John as well as overseas customers, has been proposed before, and is still being looked at, says Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development for the Seaway Management Corp. “The dream isn’t going away.” Last fall, he told the Commons Transport Committee that shipping crude oil on the Seaway-Great Lakes is feasible. “We’ve worked very closely with the railways in developing the total supply chain.” Delivering crude in tank cars to Thunder Bay for loading on tankers means a much quicker turnaround of their cars for the railways rather than hauling the oil all the way to the St. Lawrence River. “The option we’ve been working on is Thunder Bay to Quebec City, and then transshipment into international markets,” Hodgson said. “We can be competitive.” A Seawaymax tanker can transport about 80,000 barrels of crude, which is about the equivalent of a unit train of crude. (more…)

Extending the Welland Canal season would generate more marine traffic, shippers say

Extending the Welland Canal season would generate more marine traffic, shippers say

By Alex Binkley

Keeping the Welland Canal open until mid-January would allow shipping lines to generate more business and ease highway congestion in southwestern Ontario, says Gregg Ruhl, the new President and CEO of Algoma Central. “If the Welland Canal were to remain open just a few more weeks, there would be hundreds and hundreds fewer trucks on the road,” he says. “The longer season should at least match the January 15 closing of the Soo Locks.”

Ruhl was Algoma’s COO when he proposed the longer shipping season to the Commons Transport Committee last fall as it held hearings across the country on a Canadian Transportation and Logistics Strategy. The committee released an interim report in late February that included a recommendation that Transport Canada work with The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC) and its users “to explore ways to increase year-round use of the St. Lawrence Seaway to transport goods within central Canada.” The review “should consider such issues as icebreaking capabilities, piloting fees, handling fees at terminals and docking fees,” the MPs agreed. While the government has until mid-spring to respond to that recommendation, Bruce Hodgson, SLSMC’s Director of Marketing, said the issue is being discussed with domestic and international ship operators and shippers. “We’ve looked at the market and the indications are that a longer Welland season would generate additional business. We’ll work through the process of fully considering the idea.” One possibility would be keeping it open for a few more days in late December to see what happens, he said. (more…)

Pilotage costs and reforms remain sore points for Great Lakes transportation

By Alex Binkley

It doesn’t take long for an interview about shipping on the Great Lakes Seaway system to turn to the cost of marine pilotage. Few address the topic as bluntly as Bart Peters of Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group. “Pilots in the U.S. basically have the freedom to make decisions about their own salary. They are running a government-sanctioned monopoly, there is no restriction on continuously increasing their costs, so there is no incentive whatsoever to ever bring costs down. Also, no one is ever responsible if things go wrong.” Unless the United States and Canada get serious about pilotage costs, “the Great Lakes trade will not develop any further,” he said. (more…)