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The future for Canada-U.S. container port rivalries


Canada's major container ports have competed successfully against their U.S. counterparts for overseas container traffic. However, the ocean container shipping industry is undergoing changes that will impact on their relationships with ports and competition among ports for container traffic has been fierce. This paper explores how Canadian ports might fare in this increasingly competitive environment, based on their natural and man-made attributes, their competitive stance and their potential to meet the evolving ocean container industry.

The assessment includes a review of the ocean container shipping industry, the North American container market and competing ports in the United States (U.S.). This report uses data from two sources, Statistics Canada's marine international origin/destination (O/D) database and the U.S. Department of Transport Maritime Administration's (MARAD) Annual Import Export Waterborne Databank which is based on Journal of Commerce P.I.E.R.S. data.

The keys to the success of Canadian container ports have been a combination of natural endowments, investments in intermodal facilities and competitive pricing. These factors are likely to continue into the future, however, the competition among container ports is likely to intensify as industry consolidation continues and as publicly funded U.S. intermodal terminal and corridor projects come to fruition.

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