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Lifting of Import Duty Paves Way For New Ships


Contact: Julia Fields (613) 294-8515

St. Catharines, Ontario (October 1, 2010) — The government’s announcement that it will eliminate the 25 per cent import duty on foreign-built ships paves the way for “an exciting new era” of investment into the Canadian Great Lakes fleet that will have wide-reaching economic and environmental benefits, said marine industry leaders today.

The duty, which adds more than $10 million to the purchase of a ship built overseas, has been a major barrier standing in the way of Great Lakes shipowners renewing the fleet. A new full Seawaysize dry bulk carrier or petroleum products tanker has not been built in Canada in the past 25 years. The average age of a Canadian-flag ship operating in the Great Lakes is now 38 years old.

“This heralds an exciting new era of investment which will allow Canadian shipping companies to rebuild their ageing Great Lakes fleets with the newest state of art ships currently being designed. This will not only substantially reduce our emissions and environmental footprints but also provide jobs for Canadians in the years to come,” said Gerry Carter, chief executive of Montreal-based Canada Steamships Lines, which operates 18 ships on the Great Lakes-Seaway System.

Allister Paterson, chief executive of St. Catharines-based Seaway Marine Transport, which operates 30 ships in the Great Lakes, said: “This tax has stood in the way of new ship orders for almost three decades. Much of the Canadian Great Lakes fleet is nearing retirement, and will need replacement in the coming years. We are confident that this news will pave the way for much needed reinvestment.” Seaway Marine Transport is a partnership of publicly-traded company Algoma Central Corporation and privately-owned Upper Lakes Group Inc.

Industry representatives, who gathered in St. Catharines, Ontario at Lock 3 of the Welland Canal to hear the announcement by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and St. Catharines Member of Parliament Rick Dykstra made it clear that elimination of the duty would provide both economic and environmental benefits.

Bruce Bowie, president of the Canadian Shipowners Association (CSA), said: “This is great news for the entire Great Lakes-St.Lawrence region. New vessels will help bring new business to the region as it will allow shipowners to remain competitive. This in turn will help retain and create highly-skilled jobs. The new ships that can be built today will also bring further improvements to what is already the most energy efficient mode of transportation by reducing SOx, NOx and carbon emissions.”

Stephen Brooks, vice-president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC), said: “This is certainly a win for the marine industry but it’s also a win for Canadian competitiveness and the economy at large. With over $10-million per new ship going back to business instead of government coffers, this translates into increased competitiveness, more jobs, and ultimately lower costs to shippers and consumers.”

Today’s announcement comes after years of advocacy by industry representatives, including the CSA and CMC. For the past three years, CMC spearheaded and has coordinated a Marine Industry Caucus with legislators like Members of Parliament, Mike Wallace (Burlington), Rick Dykstra (St. Catharines), Steven Blaney (Lévis—Bellechasse), Marc Garneau (Westmount-Ville-Marie), Jay Hill (Prince George-Peace River), Merv Tweed (Brandon-Souris) and many others in order to raise the import duty and other issues with legislators and policymakers.

The Great Lakes-Seaway System is at the heart of North America’s economic engine. The Federal Government has identified the St. Lawrence Great Lakes Continental Gateway as an essential trade route serving the industrial and commercial heartland of Quebec and Ontario that links the primary transportation routes between this region with Western and Atlantic Canada as well as major U.S. and offshore markets. The adjoining 8 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces are home to 100 million consumers and have a combined regional GDP of over $4.3 trillion — more than the country of Germany. Marine shipping provides an efficient, reliable and low-cost route to and from these markets and delivers the raw materials that North American manufacturers depend on. Roughly 200 million tons of cargo is traded annually on the System. The Great Lakes Seaway System is responsible for approximately 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and 150,000 in the U.S.

Marine Delivers is a bi-national, industry collaboration that aims to demonstrate the economic contribution and environmental sustainability of the shipping industry throughout the Great Lakes region. The Marine Delivers initiative is administered by the American Great Lakes Ports Association in the United States, and the Chamber of Marine Commerce in Canada. For more information, visit the Marine Delivers website at

About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) is a bi-national association that represents diverse marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as Canadian domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system's significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.

Media Contact:
Jason Card
Chamber of Marine Commerce
(613) 447 5401