The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation announced, on January 17, that tonnage on the waterway during the 2018 navigation season totaled 40.9 million tonnes, hitting its record as it is the highest result since 2007. Traffic increased by 7% year-one year, whereas the total vessel transits were up nearly 6%.
As reported in the statement, much credit should be given to healthy movements of grain, the best on record since the turn of the century. Marketing efforts under the “Highway H2O” initiative served as a catalyst to spur increased movements of a broad range of cargoes including grain, road salt, stone, cement, gypsum and refined fuels.
Ten top-performing bulk and breakbulk cargoes pushed Seaway traffic well above the five-year average.
- Grain was up 20%, accounting for nearly 1/3 of all traffic;
- Liquid bulk was up 22%;
- Other major commodities like salt, coal and cement also posted large gains.
The strong performance was driven in part by the trade war between the U.S. and its trading partners in China and Europe, according to insiders. With new EU retaliatory tariffs on American corn and Chinese tariffs on American soybeans, grain shipments out of Canada’s inland provinces rose as buyers shifted away from American suppliers.
Significant volumes of these Canadian exports departed through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Yet, trade tensions did not only have a positive development for Seaway traffic.
Meaning that iron ore volumes decrease on the waterway due to U.S. tariffs on Canadian-made steel.
Also, according to Craig H. Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, total tonnage on the St. Lawrence Seaway exceeded the 5-, 10-, and 15-year averages, making 2018 the best shipping season in over a decade.
The investments in Seaway infrastructure and technology are achieving greater efficiencies for our customers and enhancing the binational waterway’s global competitiveness.
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