International perspective

The Maritime Strategy, elaborated over a 15-year horizon, relies on Québec’s competitive advantages and, in particular, its strategic geographic position in relation to major international and domestic markets, in a context where growing numbers of international economic agreements are broadening trade.

Québec can benefit from the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which, combined with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will give it access to a market encompassing nearly 1 billion people.

Accordingly, the Maritime Strategy intends to rely on the St. Lawrence River to position it as the international gateway to eastern North America. Its navigable waterway goes to the heart of the North American continent. Furthermore, it is the shortest route between Europe and the North American heartland, two of the world’s most heavily industrialized areas.

Québec has a strategic commercial port system comprising 20 ports. It is interconnected to the CN and CP rail networks and to road networks, which enables it to directly reach a North American market of more than 135 million people.

The Maritime Strategy intends to take advantage of these assets and more extensive trade transiting through maritime transport, in particular through the establishment of logistical hubs with high added value, which will enhance the efficiency of trade and create numerous jobs.

The Maritime Strategy makes provision for the development of industrial port zones in order to make Québec firms more competitive. Industrial port zones will foster greater synergy between the businesses that are part of them and offer a competitive advantage to firms that require port services. On the whole, they will boost Québec exports, especially those of manufacturers.

The Maritime Strategy will contribute to the development of the Northern Plan by facilitating access to the territory and to marine infrastructure. Québec’s know-how in the transportation sector and expertise in the northern context will be fully harnessed.

The Maritime Strategy will also foster opportunities for international collaboration, in particular through the establishment of the Institut France Québec sur les questions maritimes. Broader international collaboration will maximize the economic impact of interdisciplinary collaborative projects, the pooling of expertise at the international level, infrastructure cost-sharing, and the training of highly qualified workers.

Port and maritime infrastructure also support the tourism industry in the main zones along the St. Lawrence River, which is an attractive destination for growing numbers of travellers. In particular, the international cruise sector, marine mammal watching excursions and cruise-excursions are growing rapidly. Activities related to international cruises alone generated $105 million in economic spinoff in the Québec economy in 2012, in addition to 1 600 jobs.