A Series of Trading Opportunities & Supply Chain Partnership in Emerging Markets

Trading Opportunities in Latin American & Caribbean regions

As facts and figures mentioned in the first part of this series, Latin America & Caribbean is considered as a hidden gem for Canadian’s global trade as of not only its geographical location but also a stable and high growing rate of its total gross domestic product (GDP) as well as its population

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Indeed, Canada has promoted trade acceleration activities with those regions via eight Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) and Foreign Investment and Protection Agreements as well as 30 air transportation agreements. In details, Canadian government invested an amount of $708 million as its international assistance to support Canadian businesses in this region in 2017 – 2018. In 2012, Latin America and Caribbean contributed USD $56 billion to Canada’s total trade including key destinations for exports such as Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Chile as well as emerging markets such as the Bahamas, Bolivia, Aruba and Cuba (International Trade Center, 2013).


Partnership and Connections between Canadian Ports and Latin American & Caribbean Regions

We have the honor of interviewing one of our experts, Shannon Blanchard, Cargo Development Manager at Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. She has been working at Port Saint John for 15 years in different roles, developing business strategies for cargo market sector. She will share market intelligence and how the Port of Saint John connects and sees opportunities with Latin American & Caribbean Regions.


1) What is the history & experience between Port Saint John & the LATAM region?

The Port been active shipping to the region:

  • Port Saint John’s (PSJ) natural container trade lane is with the Caribbean and Central/South America. To put this into perspective, geographically we are positioned closer to the East Coast of Brazil than the Port of Baltimore and equidistant compared to New York. You would automatically assume that both US ports would be closer when looking on a flat map, but with the natural curve of the globe, it gives Port Saint John an advantage for the shipping lines.

    Our container services within the last two decades have all been within the North South trade lane; either as the final destination, or as the trans-shipment points. Currently we offer two FCL container services in the region; MSC began operations in 2012 and CMA CGM in 2017; with trans-shipments occurring in Freeport, Bahamas and Kingston, Jamaica respectively.

The value and advantage of LATAM to the Port:

  • Currently we are seeing around 95% of our import container cargo is coming from this region. We have been very active with our business development efforts in that trade lane and have seen volumes double YTD this year vs last. On the export side of our business, we are seeing approximately 25% of our volume destined for LATAM, with the other 75% moving onward to Asia and Oceania.

    Our advantage with our service connectivity is transit time competitiveness. When evaluating the routing options of Canadian origin or destined cargo through PSJ to the historical routing with a US East Coast Port, it not only compares nicely with transit times, but it also gives shippers and receivers a competitive all Canadian container option, bypassing US Customs and additional regulation and documentation requirements. We and our supply chain partners, the terminal operator, container lines and rail providers, have been pushing this message to the freight forwarding communities, as well as directly to BCO’s, both in Canada and in our target markets. Port Saint John’s role in container business development is a facilitator of trade, connecting potential shippers and receivers to our partners, and as result to experience supply chain conversion to PSJ.

The Port Management experience in the region:

  • For over 15 years, PSJ has been very active in business development research and initiatives/activities in LATAM. Over the years, we have been able to create a unique process: this process begins with understanding researched target markets, transit competitiveness and the import/export trade opportunity, we then engage with Global Affairs Canada in our priority markets and develop a promotional plan along with our supply chain partners and collaborators (terminal operator, shipping lines, chambers, industry associations. The promotional plan targets freight forwarders and BCO’s directly. To name a few of our initiatives, we have hosted, a partnership with ACOA and ONB, trade missions here in Saint John and abroad, conducted webinars, hosted receptions, and engaged in speaking opportunities.

The main commodity types shipping through the Port to the region:

  • We are seeing a great deal of consumables moving in both directions but have also seen Christmas trees and snow being exported.


2) How does Port Saint John fit into the supply chain for both importers/exporters between Canada & LATAM?

Port Saint John is easily accessible. The terminal position is adjacent to the major highway system which gives uncongested access to trucks serving the Atlantic Canada market and through competitive rail options PSJ is also centrally located to take advantage of the larger population bases in Ontario and Quebec, the US Midwest and Northeast. PSJ is the only port in Atlantic Canada with the ability to be serviced by multiple rail lines: CN, CP and Pan Am. To give you an example of the timeliness of our container operations: the vessel will arrive in Saint John on a Friday, is loaded on rail and will be in Montreal by Monday and Toronto by Tuesday.

In addition to the container service connectivity in LATAM, PSJ has commonality with several target markets in the region through a shared global container terminal operator–DP World. This certainly has an advantage when looking to shift shipper/receiver supply chain as the same operator standards would be present in both the port of origin and destination. DP World offers a wide variety of value-added services including inventory and warehouse control, distribution and cross-docking – (de) stuffing. Our customs inspections also take place at the terminal, avoiding lengthy delays and dwell time.


3) What strategies will Port Saint john look to implement to increase opportunities for shippers between the regions?

Port Saint John in equal partnership with the Federal and New Brunswick Provincial governments, has committed to investing $205 million dollars in container terminal enhancements to prepare for future growth, providing access to handle larger vessels and increased rail volumes. With the project completion slated for 2023; Port Saint John will see longer, stronger piers, a wider channel and a deeper berth. All this to say, PSJ is building capacity for future growth, nearly tripling our container capacity. In addition to this infrastructure investment, more than $200 million additional dollars are being committed by the rail providers in support of upgrading their trackage to Saint John and terminal operator DP World in technology and container handling equipment.


Thank you very much, Shannon, for sharing your insight with us! We wish you and PSJ all the best and success in the business and market development!

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