Shipping through the St. Lawrence Seaway increased 15.5 percent in tonnage during 2010, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.
Growth in 2011 is expected to be in a range between 4 percent and 9 percent, depending on iron ore exports to China and Italy, which haven’t yet made commitments for bigger orders than last year.
Encouraging more traffic on the Seaway this year, the Canadian administration is making no increase on tolls. The fourth consecutive freeze was made, "in an effort to maintain the momentum underlying the Seaway’s market development initiatives," the Canadian administration said.
Commentary on the Harbor Maintenance Tax in JOC:
Gateways to Growth.
Tolls are charged for traversing the 13 locks in Canada of the 15-lock system. They are not charged in the United States, but there is a Harbor Maintenance Tax paid on goods imported through the ports.
Seaway tonnage rebounded in 2010, to 35.5 million metric tons from 30.7 million in 2009, which SLSMC President Terence Bowles termed "a difficult year." Hodgson expected tonnage to rise further in 2011 to about 38.5 million tons.
Iron ore shot up 34 percent in 2010 to 9.3 million metric tons from 6.9 million in 2009 and is expected to rise further.
Grain had a particularly good year in 2010, growing 10.45 percent to 9 million tons over 8.2 million in 2009, and Hodgson sees a further increase for 2011. The United States will for the second year outpace Canada in grain exports, in percentage increase terms. From Canada last year, 6 million metric tons were exported through the Seaway, a 3.6 percent increase over 2009, while U.S. exports were up 27 percent to 2.98 million tons.
Hodgson said strong demand for grain is expected in Europe, where Russia stopped its large grain exports last year as supplies dwindled. There is good supply and good quality in the U.S. but bad weather conditions have left the supply and the quality a question in Canada, he said.
General cargo, never a comparatively large sector in tonnage but which pays the Seaway the highest revenues, rose a huge 63 percent in 2010 to 1.48 million tons. Hodgson sees it growing again, on continued North American demand for imported wind turbines and, a new venture, Canadian-produced turbines going to China and Brazil. Also in general cargo, iron and steel for a recovering auto industry are expected to increase.
Hodgson expected stone aggregate and gypsum for the construction industry in the U.S. and Canada to show increases in 2011 as well.
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