Trade mission to Antwerp focuses on Africa, Asia

Increasing business to and from Africa, South Asia and Turkey was on the agenda as part of a recent Port of Montreal trade mission to the Port of Antwerp.

From left to right: Yves Gilson, Marketing Manager, Port of Montreal, Luc Arnouts, Chief Commercial
Officer, Port of Antwerp, Marc Van Peel, President of the Antwerp Port Authority, Sylvie Vachon,
President and Chief Executive Officer, Port of Montreal, and Tony Boemi, Vice-President, Growth
and Development, Port of Montreal

Montreal Port Authority (MPA) President and CEO Sylvie Vachon, Vice-President of Growth and Development Tony Boemi, and Marketing Manager Yves Gilson participated in the trade mission, held May 25-26.

As part of the mission, the Port of Montreal officials attended the Port of Antwerp’s second annual Club Afric evening, an event that aims to strengthen the relationships between all stakeholders doing maritime business between Africa and Antwerp. Some 140 maritime company and freight forwarding representatives attended the reception.

The ports of Montreal and Antwerp discussed how Antwerp serves as an ideal hub between Montreal and the African continent, and that transshipment through Antwerp for onward movement to Montreal provides a competitive route for shippers in African markets looking to reach North America.

“The evening was the perfect networking opportunity for us to provide an overview of the Port Montreal,” Mr. Boemi said. “It was an excellent platform for us to showcase our advantages for moving cargo to North America’s industrial heartland.

The port also gathered insight from the Port of Antwerp on how Montreal can benefit from the European port’s experience on the African markets. Antwerp handles more African traffic than any other European port; some 21.5 million tonnes of cargo was traded between Africa and the Port of Antwerp last year. The Port of Montreal handled 545,000 tonnes of cargo to and from Africa in 2014.

Montreal and Antwerp also discussed synergies between the two ports for serving South Asian markets and Turkey. The Port of Antwerp has reinforced its presence in Asia – and India, in particular, and it handles more freight to and from Turkey than any other European port. With its strong presence in Asia and Turkey, the Port of Antwerp is available to act as a facilitator of information on the Port of Montreal and to assist its representative in Asia in these two markets.

The trade mission also examined the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union and the potential benefits for the ports of Montreal and Antwerp.

The MPA and the Antwerp Port Authority signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2013 to foster mutually beneficial cooperation in marketing and business development to further bolster their already substantial maritime trade relations across the Atlantic.

Within the accord, the ports have identified four areas of cooperation – Business Intelligence; Marketing and Commercial Development; Sustainable Development/Social Responsibility; and Asset Management – that will continue to evolve. As part of the MOU, the Port of Montreal and the Port of Antwerp organize a joint trade mission once a year, alternately in Antwerp and Montreal.