Category Archives: Trade

Vancouver Province column: Metro Vancouver still missing out on proven benefits of rail travel

September 29, 2008

Whether you agree with her political philosophy or not, you have to give Elizabeth May full marks for making plenty of noise during this fall’s federal election.

The leader of the federal Green Party has made history — and headlines — by elbowing her way into the upcoming televised leaders debates.

More recently, May kicked off an old-fashioned, cross-country whistle stop train tour in Vancouver that attracted lots of positive buzz.

Her eight-province journey was the first of its kind since former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker traversed the country by train in the 1960s.

While May’s campaign adventure has captured the imagination of nostalgic Canadians, and a handful of rail geeks, it also put the spotlight on a previously ignored mode of transport.
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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Environment, Politics, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Trade, Transportation, Vancouver, Vancouver Province Columns

Business in Vancouver column: Osaka air link cancellation will sever vital economic tie for B.C.

Osaka air link cancellation will sever vital economic tie for B.C.

Derek Moscato: Podium

Business in Vancouver July 29-August 4, 2008; issue 979

At first blush, this past spring’s announcement from Air Canada that it would be cancelling its direct flight between Vancouver and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport might have seemed like a minor setback for a handful of frequent flyers and would-be tourists on both sides of the Pacific.

High fuel costs have ushered in a tough new era for airlines globally. Volatile economic times mean that cutbacks at airlines across North America are the new norm.

As for Air Canada’s service between Vancouver International Airport and Osaka, while it’s true that the route did a brisk business, it didn’t exactly garner a reputation for attracting the kind of premium business that would fatten a carrier’s bottom line. Besides, Osaka has always played second-fiddle to Tokyo, Japan’s largest city. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Education, Industry, Japan, Media, Osaka, Politics, Tourism, Trade, Transportation, Vancouver

World’s best cities for business according to Mastercard Worldwide research

Earlier this week, MasterCard Worldwide released its annual survey of “the global economy’s most influential cities”. Read on…

MasterCard Worldwide Research Highlights Growing Role of Asian and Eastern European Cities in the Global Economy

London remains the global economy’s most influential city, according to the 2008 MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index™, an annual research initiative designed to evaluate and rank how major cities compare in performing critical functions that connect markets and commerce around the world. The future, however, appears to belong to Asia and Eastern Europe, whose cities represent the fastest rising regions within the Index.

Shanghai had the largest jump in overall rank – moving eight spots from 2007 to 2008 – bringing it into the top 25 of this year’s Index and demonstrating the growing importance of Asian cities to a progressively urbanized global economy. Moscow, a gateway for the fast- growing Eastern European region, showed the greatest improvement in actual Index score and had the most significant gain on London year-over-year. Continue reading

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Filed under Hong Kong, Industry, London, Los Angeles, Media, New York, Osaka, Tokyo, Toronto, Trade

Province column: Government must do more to speed travel between Vancouver and Seattle

The Province
Monday, March 31, 2008

Road trips to Seattle, Portland and other Pacific Northwest destinations have long been popular with British Columbians hankering for some
fun and recreation south of the 49th parallel. But given the dreadfully long lineups at border crossings in the Lower Mainland, perhaps they’d be better off flying to Toronto or Montreal instead for that out-of-town weekend adventure.

After all, getting there by air might at least be faster than joining the queue of Washington-bound cars at the Peace Arch crossing on a typical Saturday morning.
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Filed under Academia, British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Entertainment, Politics, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Trade, Transportation, Vancouver Province Columns

Port of Vancouver: Canada’s Pacific Gateway (Interview with CEO Gordon Houston)

I wrote this magazine article about the Port of Vancouver, including an interview with chief executive Gordon Houston, for Asia Inc. magazine earlier this year:

Captain Gordon Houston, President and CEO of the Vancouver Port Authority, is looking to Asia’s fast-growing economies as the engine for continued growth at Canada’s largest port, as well as Canada’s most westerly province of British Columbia.

The port fits prominently into the government of Canada’s “Pacific Gateway” strategy, fostering ramped-up trade linkages between Canada’s West Coast and Asia, and strengthening Canada’s position in international commerce.

Collectively with other terminal operators, labor unions, railways, and other transportation bodies, the port is building the necessary linkages to make Vancouver, and by extension British Columbia, a competitive and efficient port environment.

“Vancouver is the gateway into Canada for Asia-based goods,” says Houston. “We’ve  been very successful at that. 95 percent of Canadian cargo (to and from Asia), comes through Vancouver. That is a significant amount of cargo.”

With that being said, Houston’s ambitions are clearly global. The port is a huge player by global standards: In North America, the port ranks number one in total foreign exports, and along North America’s West Coast, it ranks number one in total cargo volume. In total, the Port of Vancouver trades $43 billion in goods with more than 90 trading economies annually.

Not that things have always come easy for the B.C. port.
Houston notes that the ramping up of two-way trade (in addition to importing numerous goods manufactured in Asia, Canada also exports a high volume of raw materials to China, Japan and other countries in Asia) at one point posed a challenge for the Vancouver port.

“Two years ago, it put quite a stress on our port, and our ability to handle that kind of growth was in jeopardy for a while,” he says.

The situation has since changed. “We are now able to handle the growth in China and the rest of Asia, and we have the environmental approvals to expand our facilities.”

“For the first time in our history, this year we will have handled 2 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units),” he notes.

All the while, he emphasizes the importance of smart growth for the port and surrounding infrastructure in Greater Vancouver.

“It’s partially infrastructure, but it’s also efficiencies,” he says. “We have driven many efficiencies into the system.”

Like other global ports, the Port of Vancouver is dealing with its own ownership structure changes. In late November, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan announced that it had signed a US$2.35 billion agreement with Orient Overseas of Hong Kong to acquire the operating rights for two Port of Vancouver container terminals (as well as one in New York, and one in New Jersey).

Houston is quick to point out that much of the media fanfare over port ownership changes in North America and Asia is simply misled.

“One of the misconceptions is that ports are selling their terminals,” he says, “when all they sold is the operating rights. The infrastructure still belongs, and always belongs, to the port.”

“In the case of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan,” he says, “they bought operating rights; these are not infrastructure sales. These operating rights are attractive to funds or financial institutions, because they are long-term contracts, and represent a reliable, long-term source of cash flow.”

Moving forward, Houston points to the port’s sustainability strategy, which he says fits seamlessly with the growth strategy necessary to reach Asia.

“Sustainability has three legs,” says Houston. “One:  environment. Two, financial sustainability — you have to be capable and sufficient.”

“And three, there are the communities. You have to have sustainable communities around you,” he says,  underscoring the fact that a port and its host community have to find a sustainable working relationship. “Ports operate at the leisure of the community around them.”

Meanwhile, the Asian continent continues to loom large for Captain Houston, and by extension, a nation increasingly looking to Asia for economic opportunity.

“We’re very dedicated to the business that comes from Asia, and we will do everything we can to make sure that cargo will come in through our port.”

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