Montreal port officials say the free trade deal between Canada and the European Union has boosted container shipping and prompted a hiring spree at the docks.
The Maritime Employers Association says the volume moving through its gates jumped 19.7 per in July compared to the same month last year, hitting the equivalent of about 147,000 20-foot containers.
Container imports increased 7.8 per cent to nearly 4.33 million tonnes in the first seven months of this year versus the same period in 2017, with the bulk of that traffic coming from Europe.
The employers association, which handles training for the port workforce, as well as the Montreal Port Authority attribute much of the container inflow to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement signed by Canada and the European Union in 2016.
CETA came into provisional effect last September, offering Canadian companies broader access to one of the world’s largest markets.
The extra dock traffic spurred the association to start hiring 50 more longshoremen and 15 more auditors, and resulted in several key terminals nearly doubling their operating time to 17 hours each workday. The goods range from imported wine, cheese and steel beams to exported ball bearings.