Ontario businesses should be using Halifax for its containerized cargo trade from India to reduce costs and transit times, says the head of the Halifax Port Authority.
In a luncheon address Thursday in Toronto, Karen Oldfield, the authority’s president and CEO, said if Ontario business is not using Halifax “then freight owners are paying too much to transport containers and travel time is a lot longer than it needs to be.”
Speaking at the Empire Club, she said in the shipping business time is money and Halifax can save shippers time because it can offer fast access to central Canadian markets and the U.S. Midwest, no congestion, plus capacity at the berths, terminals and on the rail line.
The Canadian Retail Shippers Association, which has several major retailers doing business in India, has chosen Halifax as its port because the association “figured they could cut transit time for shipments from India in half from 46 days to 23 days by shipping through Halifax, not the West Coast,” she said.
The port president outlined the port’s strategy to increase its cargo business and said India, through the Suez Canal, is the most logical scenario for that to happen.
“The Suez Canal plays a big part in our growth strategy, especially in terms of India,” she said. “We already have lines calling on Halifax via the Suez. When we combine these lines with the others calling from all over the globe, we clearly demonstrate we are accessible to world markets.”
She suggested that within a few years the India-Atlantic freight corridor will rival the Asia-Pacific freight corridor and “my focus today and every day is to grow the India-Atlantic corridor and to capture as much of the freight on that corridor as possible.”
India’s trade value, she said, is $800 billion a year and trade with Canada is less than one per cent of that trade, leaving plenty of opportunity to grow.
Ms. Oldfield said Halifax has already made overtures to Ontario to help develop business with India by introducing members of a recent Ontario government trade mission to an Indian company under contract to Halifax.
Operating in Mumbai and New Delhi, Jeena & Co. Global Logistics is discussing with shippers, manufacturers, freight forwarders and others the advantages of moving their cargo through Halifax to North American markets.
Ms. Oldfield said Canada is a large country with a small population that will grow and prosper on the strength of its trade links.
“We have international container terminals on both coasts,” she said. “They are vital links to world trade corridors” and it is important for both to work together “as assets in a national trade strategy.”
Canada needs to capture its share of business from both India and Asia “and for that matter,” she said, “any other emerging trading partners around the world. Our challenge is also our opportunity.”