Port Saint John is hoping to boost trade with inbound and outbound trade missions

In 2012, developing North-South trade routes was the purpose behind Port Saint John’s annual Port Days. This year, it’s strengthening those links.

For the past three years, Port Saint John has been facilitating an effort to grow and balance trade with Southern ports. Building on the spirit of cooperation with established sister ports in Santos, Brazil and Caucedo, Dominican Republic, port staff recently met with representatives from the Port of Limon in Costa Rica to establish long-term relationships that will also facilitate the expansion of trade.

“At first, we identified countries that would be the most opportune to grow trade between both regions and, in doing so, provided the Port with the framework required to develop strategies to ensure growth potential,” Shannon Blanchard, Manager of Cargo Development for Port Saint John, said.

In addition, Port Saint John works closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and has established close relationships with trade commissioners at southern ports.

“They are the eyes and ears for Saint John in those countries,” Blanchard said.

Balancing trade

Port Saint John is already an established container shipping facility, with links to southern ports.

Tropical Shipping, a Florida-based company with its Canadian headquarters in Saint John, celebrated 10 years of calls to Port Saint John in 2011. This service links Canadian shippers and receivers to Florida and the Caribbean. In April, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) celebrated one year of business with Port Saint John. They provide a global shipping service, linking the Port to a network of over 350 ports.

For Port Saint John, strengthening North-South trade links is all about balancing trade. Saint John is typically an export port, but Blanchard said their goal is to have more northern bound cargo coming into Saint John. In the long-term, they anticipate their efforts will assist in reducing the cost of freight for New Brunswick shippers and receivers.

Port Saint John is working with economic development agencies like InvestNB, the provincial Department of Economic Development, Canadian Embassies Trade teams, foreign ministries of import and export, as well as shipping lines. The Port sees themselves as facilitators in trade, rather than negotiators.

Developing relationships with these countries opens new opportunities for the province’s export industry. The addition of MSC’s global service paired with Port Saint John’s ongoing collaborative efforts have opened new doors for them.

DPW Caucedo, one of Saint John’s sister ports, is happy with their agreement.

“DPW Caucedo feels very proud of signing a sister port agreement with Port Saint John in 2012. With this, Caucedo is very active promoting both ports to importers, exporters and forwarders in the Dominican Republic; offering together with carriers a unique direct route to and from the east coast of Canada,” Hector Tamburini, Senior Manager at DPW Caucedo, said.

Thriving partnerships

For the second year in a row, representatives from ports in Dominican Republic, Brazil and Costa Rica will be speaking at a panel discussion on North-South trade links during Port Days in Saint John.

In addition, the Port, as well as their partners in New Brunswick and in primary markets, are orchestrating an inbound trade mission to New Brunswick. This provides the opportunity to have businesses grow their trade volumes by meeting one on one.

“Our primary business focus with respect to our North-South strategy really comes down to this. We want to create opportunities for trade by connecting shippers and receivers with products that can be both exported and imported. For the second year in a row, we will have a great number of visitors from the targeted southern regions and we will ensure that they have ample opportunity to connect with local pre-qualified businesses,” Andrew Dixon, Senior Vice-President of Planning and Development for Port Saint John, said.

Dixon said Port Saint John has a natural trading pattern with ports in the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America.

“We can use this natural trading pattern to the advantage of shippers and receivers in our local markets by building on the current base and connecting to other parts of the world, as well as building upon the current North-South business,” he said.