Still a leader on the North Atlantic container market between North America and Europe, the Port of Montreal now trades with the entire world – 140 countries on every continent – while experiencing growing success in new markets.
“Globalization has changed the face of international trade and maritime shipping,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). “It has led to increased trade among countries and fostered the development of emerging markets.
“Over the years, the Port of Montreal’s shipping partners have developed direct services with transshipment ports near the Suez and Panama canals and in Northern Europe, thereby extending shippers’ global reach. That, plus the MPA’s continuing efforts to increase the port’s international visibility, is allowing the Port of Montreal to enjoy success in new markets, for example in Asia.”
Montreal’s strategic location on the shortest direct route between the European Union and the North American heartland, and as the closest international container port to major distribution centres and consumer markets in Eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest, has traditionally made it a go-to port on the North Atlantic. And, in fact, its traditional markets are getting even stronger.
Extremely well positioned to take full advantage of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with the European Union, the port saw a 5 percent upswing in the number of containers transiting from Europe in the first eight months of 2018 compared with the same period last year. “This is a very positive sign,” Ms. Vachon said.
But because it is also on the shortest direct route between the North American heartland and the leading transshipment ports of Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, the port is handling more and more traffic to and from other markets.
Specifically, Asia is becoming a more important origin or destination for the port’s containerized cargo. Today, almost one in four international containers handled in Montreal either originates in or is destined to Asia.
Based on volume, Asia accounted for 25 percent of the port’s international container market in 2017. That’s a far cry from the 14 percent of 2013.
“Our direct services with transshipment ports in the Mediterranean and North Europe mean competitive, alternative routes to and from Southeast Asia and Far East Asia,” said Tony Boemi, the MPA’s Vice-President of Growth and Development.
The arrival of mega-ships has contributed to the port’s success. As an example, they load containers from ports in Asia, sail through the Suez Canal and stop in ports in the Mediterranean. Containers are then transshipped onto smaller vessels that, contrary to bigger ships serving several ports on the East Coast, sail directly to Montreal with the same unloading capacity and without any intermediate calls on their route.
To strengthen the port’s relationships internationally, the MPA has signed cooperative agreements with ports elsewhere in the world. It has a cooperative agreement with the Port of Antwerp, the Port of Montreal’s largest trading partner, and HAROPA, a joint venture among the ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Paris, the fifth largest port complex in Northern Europe.
Earlier this year, the MPA signed a cooperative agreement with Mundra Port, part of the Adani Group, a leading player in India’s transportation logistics industry. Mundra is the largest commercial port in India, a country with a very high growth potential.
Through these cooperative agreements, the port and its partners develop commercial strategies that are mutually beneficial to both parties and they exchange best practices. They also meet on an annual basis to appraise the work that has been done and determine the next steps to be taken.
Other cooperative agreements are in the works.
“These agreements make it possible for us to intensify our business development on top of the work done by our agents posted abroad,” Ms. Vachon said.
The MPA has international representatives in the United States, Europe and Asia to develop new business. As Port of Montreal ambassadors, they promote the port to increase its visibility at a global level, meet with major importers and exporters around the world on a regular basis and pursue growth opportunities.
On social media platforms, the MPA has more than 12,700 followers on its LinkedIn pages Trading with the World and Commercer avec le monde. The MPA has also launched a new B2B platform that directly targets clients and partners: