The Montreal Port Authority (MPA) got a jumpstart on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union by signing an international cooperation agreement with the French ports system HAROPA at the beginning of September.

CETA, which came into force on September 21, covers almost all sectors and aspects of Canada-EU trade in order to eliminate or reduce barriers. A special event officially heralding the provisional application of CETA was held in the Port of Montreal that day before the media, dignitaries and distinguished guests. Among those in attendance were François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Christine St-Pierre, Quebec’s Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Peteris Ustubs, Ambassador, EU representative to Canada, Steve Verheul, CETA Chief Negotiator, and Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the MPA.

With almost 40 percent of the goods moving through the Port of Montreal coming from or destined to the European Union, the cooperation agreement with HAROPA is ideally suited for the MPA, as HAROPA – a joint venture among the ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Paris – is the fifth largest port complex in Northern Europe.

“I have stated all along that CETA is ‘made to measure’ for the Port of Montreal,” Ms. Vachon said. “We are the leading port on the North American East Coast for trade between the European Union and North America’s industrial heartland. Our strategic location between the EU and the North American free trade zone makes the Port of Montreal the natural gateway to and from Europe.

“CETA will further strengthen these trade ties and generate new types of import and export cargo for both the Port of Montreal and HAROPA. Signing this international cooperation agreement in light of CETA makes perfect sense for both of our organizations.”

The agreement between the MPA and HAROPA will strengthen and extend cooperation in various technical, sales, and research and innovation sectors of the port business and further develop the synergies that exist between the two organizations.

Through thematic workshops, joint communications and research, and the sharing of market intelligence and best practices, the MPA and HAROPA will work specifically on:

• Inter-port governance, including pilotage and dredging, social acceptability of port projects, and river resource management;

• Sales and promotion, including joint business events in France and Montreal, sharing of information on B2B social media platforms, exchange of market intelligence, and joint research (modelling of supply chains, targeted market studies by sector, etc.); and

• Sharing of innovation, including the assessment of port supply chains, port fluidity, and the use of artificial intelligence in port logistics.

“As the leading French port system, HAROPA is very pleased about this agreement with the MPA which is, to date, our major trade partner in Canada and our second largest

partner in Eastern America,” said Hervé Martel, President of HAROPA. “Through the experience acquired via about 30 twinning and cooperation agreements we have signed, we know of all the synergy that will be set up with Montreal and the benefits for our two ports.”

Ms. Vachon and Mr. Martel signed the cooperation agreement on September 6 at Le Havre City Hall during the Sister Ports Conferences.