Trade visit to promote Great Lakes seaway
From MICHAEL CHUGANI in Washington
A HIGH-LEVEL joint trade delegation from the United States and Canada will visit Hongkong in early May as part of a Pacific Rim mission to promote the St Lawrence Seaway System as a major shipping route for the global flow of goods.
It would be the first such mission to the Far East which accounted for one million tonnes of cargo shipped annually through the Seaway.
Delegation leader Mr Stanford Parris, the administrator of the St Lawrence Seaway Corporation, said the target was to boost the Pacific Rim cargo volume from the present one million tonnes to eight million tonnes a year.
He told a press conference that Hongkong was a vital link in the overall international flow of goods between the Far East and North America via the Seaway.
''Hongkong will become even more important after the 1997 transfer [to Chinese rule],'' Mr Parris said, in reference to the massive exports of Chinese goods to the US.
When asked why China - a leading player in Pacific Rim trade with North America - was not on the itinerary, Mr Parris said the delegation's overcrowded agenda prevented such a stopover.
During its May 5-8 stop in Hongkong, the 14-member delegation has planned to hard-sell the merits of using the St Lawrence Seaway System to ship cargoes to and from North America.
The Seaway System, 2,000 nautical miles long with 25 major ports, has opened up the the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada to the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr Parris said the Seaway provided a reliable and economical way of shipping goods between North America and international markets by avoiding expensive overland transportation charges.
He said 14 per cent of total exports to the Pacific Rim were shipped via the St Lawrence Seaway System.
''We have the potential of increasing this to 21 per cent,'' he said.
The delegation, which has scheduled the beginning of it lobby mission for April 20 in Australia, planned to travel to Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and finally Hongkong.
The delegation's members comprise American and Canadian maritime experts from carrier companies, ship and cargo broker firms, exporters and importers, port authorities, and government agencies.