Bloomberg News

Port CEO Says Vancouver Avoiding Asia Economic Slowdown

August 16, 2012

Vancouver’s port is avoiding the impact of an economic slowdown in China and other Asian countries thanks to increased coal and container traffic, chief executive officer Robin Silvester said.

Cargo volume in the first half of 2012 rose 6 percent from a year earlier to 62.3 million tons, and that pace of gain should continue for the rest of the year, Silvester said in a telephone interview today. Dry bulk shipments such as coal from Canada’s busiest port rose 10 percent to 16.7 million tons while container traffic increased 6 percent to a record 1.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units, a standard measure of volume.

China’s annual export growth slowed to 1 percent in July from 11.3 percent in June according to an Aug. 10 customs bureau report, adding to evidence of a slowdown in the world’s second- largest economy. Leaders of the ruling Communist Party pledged earlier this month to keep adjusting policies to promote a stable expansion.

“China is slowing from 9 percent growth to 7 percent growth, and 7 percent growth is still pretty good,” Silvester said. “We aren’t seeing it so far,” he said of an Asian slowdown, and “we would expect to be ending the year in a very healthy position.”

Vancouver is Canada’s main conduit for sea shipments to markets such as China, South Korea and India. The Pacific-coast port handles about C$75 billion ($76 billion) of goods each year.

The federal government’s decision to end its monopoly on wheat exports from the western provinces may also boost future traffic at the port, Silvester said.

“We are seeing a lot of interest from the grain sector to expand grain capacity,” he said. “It’s a number greater than one or two that we are talking about,” he said, declining to name specific companies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at gquinn1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net; Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net


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