by Tom Peters

Staying connected with key global markets is a vital part of Halifax Port Authority’s (HPA) business strategy, and having representation in those regions is vital to keeping the port competitive and growing. Alison Winsor, HPA’s Manager of International Trade Development, said the representation program has been essential in building the Port’s awareness in important trading countries.

She said that over the years HPA has consistently focused on these regions and “we see differences in the level of meetings we have with people. You see what is happening with awareness and interest in our capabilities. You are developing good relationships and seeing different sectors change, improve and grow.”

In the United States, HPA has representation in New Jersey with Paul DuVoisin, Vice-President of Commercial, and Susan Nathan, Sales Manager, U.S. Midwest and based in Chicago. DuVoisin works with major shipping lines whose North American headquarters are in the U.S. while Nathan plays an important role driving the Port business strategies in the U.S. Midwest.

In March of this year, HPA strengthened its representation in Europe with the appointment of industry veteran Graham Fraser to the position of Director of Business Development and Growth in Europe. He is based in Liverpool, England. George Malec, HPA’s Vice-President of Business Development and Operations, said Fraser’s “wide experience across all sectors of the industry and deep knowledge of European and North American markets and operations will further develop the position of Port of Halifax in Europe with carriers, shippers and freight forwarders.”

European trade accounts for approximately 41 per cent of the cargo handled through the port of Halifax and with the impending Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the Europe Union, and several megaprojects planned or underway in Atlantic Canada, there are a lot opportunities in Europe, said Winsor. She said Fraser will have a focus building on breakbulk and project cargo business in respect of these major projects.

In India, HPA is continuing its shared representation agreement with CN. Earlier this year HPA and CN hired Crest Container Lines in Mumbai. Crest has nine branch offices throughout India. “There are many opportunities in this fast growing marketplace and we are fortunate to have two very strong partners in CN and Crest to promote our business development efforts in India,” said Malec. Crest will promote CN’s North American network and the port of Halifax as the gateway port.

The growing Asia market continues to be an important aspect of HPA’s trade network and the port continues to have representation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with Andy Duy Do of Vietnam Shipping Services Corporation. “We are always looking at new markets and new areas and one of the reasons we like working with people with their own well developed networks, like in Vietnam and India, is because it provides us further opportunities for growth,” Winsor said. “Crest has offices throughout India but also in Dubai and Sri Lanka. Vietnam Shipping also has partners in Thailand,” she added. 

HPA’s connection with China is in Halifax. Sam Zhang, a Chinese Canadian operates a “virtual” connection from HPA offices and works with shipping lines, consulates and freight forwarding organizations in China.

In a move to strengthen two-way trade with China, HPA signed a sister port relationship agreement with Shenzhen Port Authority last October. Shenzhen is the main container hub for the Province of Guangdong and the Pearl River economic zone.

HPA’s relationships with shipping lines and freight forwarders in central Canada and the ever growing agri-products markets in the West are managed by HPA’s office in Halifax. Patrick Bohan, HPA’s Director of Supply Chain Solutions, for example, has been the Authority’s front man knocking on doors in the West promoting the port and its grain handling assets

Winsor said HPA is always looking at new markets and where to expand outreach but “at the moment we are staying focused on the ones we have identified that are key for our current trade lanes.”