Determining what role Halifax might play in the development of new east-west shipping routes is a complex challenge given the myriad internal and external factors involved in shippers’ decisions.
Shippers choose a port for its competitiveness with respect to the internal factors of freight costs, transit time, and frequency; and external factors such as the port’s image and marketability, its capacity, the size of its hinterland market, the entrenched business habits of shippers, and competition from other ports.
However, the significance for Halifax of the Suez Express route is that its deepwater port offers post-Panamax vessels a place to unload cargo before heading to shallower US east coast ports, such as New York, or to transship cargo onto smaller vessels through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes. Halifax has the opportunity to become a “gateway” for Chinese goods entering North America.
In Go East Go West, John Huang examines successful gateways. Huang brings his business experience in both China and Canada to provide additional insight of shipping and marketability. He points out that if Halifax hopes to capture some of the increasing flow of traffic from Asia to North America, the port faces both opportunities and challenges.
Huang concludes with some things to consider:
- Halifax should become more cost competitive.
- The federal and provincial governments and the port itself should make a much greater effort to promote Halifax as a destination for overseas shippers.
- Halifax would be more attractive if it were to build a larger distribution centre.
- Halifax would be more competitive if it further developed its economy and attracted more investment and more talented people from overseas.
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