The Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) held its annual conference last week in Belledune, New Brunswick, meeting with shipping industry partners and government officials to discuss a wide range of existing logistics challenges and how best to capitalize on future economic opportunities for Canada’s 18 port authorities.
ACPA facilities currently handle more than 60 percent of all waterborne cargo, worth an estimated $162 billion annually. The association notes that since 2006, Canada has concluded new trade agreements with nine countries, is currently negotiating with many more and has just finalized an historic deal with the 28-nation European Union which promises to open up preferred access to the world’s largest trading bloc.
To meet the expanding shipping demand and volumes of cargo anticipated as a result of these international trade agreements, the ACPA has called on the Canadian government to increase the country’s competitiveness through strengthened port facilities and improved supply chain efficiencies.
Citing a recent World Bank survey that gave Canada a less than stellar grade regarding the efficiency of the nation’s trading practices based on various factors including the quality of its infrastructure, the association is determined to improve that ranking. “In our view, 14th is not good enough for one of the world’s leading trading nations,” said ACPA president Wendy Zatylny.
“Our goal should be to break into the top 10, and we are confident that we can achieve that goal. With the partnership and support of the Government of Canada, Canada’s Port Authorities will be able to ensure our infrastructure is able to support expanded international trade and that our supply chains operate smoothly and efficiently.”
Speaking to port officials at the conference, Transport Minister Linda Raitt said that a review of the Canada Transportation Act already underway dovetails with the country’s recent success in negotiating free trade agreements with the European Union and South Korea. “To succeed with this ambitious trade agenda, we have to make sure that our transportation systems here in Canada are ready,” Raitt said. “We have to be able to execute on these deals, and we have to do that with solid transportation networks.”