Choppy political waters overseas undercut St. Lawrence shippingThe choppy political and social waters overseas are causing uncertainty in shipping along the St. Lawrence Seaway.
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The choppy political and social waters overseas are causing uncertainty in shipping along the St. Lawrence Seaway.
As the international shipping agent for Guthrie-Hubner in Duluth, Chuck Hilleran says these are dicey times for his grain exports.
“The market for that is in Europe or the Mediterranean and with all the money problems you’ve got over in these countries and some of the North African countries, the civil unrest, you go almost day to day trying to figure out am I buying high? Am I buying low? Where am I at with all this stuff?”
St. Lawrence Seaway cargo numbers were off in August and September, but Seaway acting Administrator Craig Middlebrook says overall shipping numbers are about the same as last year. But he says the summer downturn isn’t a sign that the economy is slowing.
“No, I don’t think so. In looking at the traffic it tells us traffic remains stable. Some of the positives it underscores is some of the diversification of the Seaway traffic which has been evolving over the last couple of years.”
That includes more general cargo like wind energy components. Middlebrook says the 16 percent downturn in grain has an upside.
“That decrease was able to be absorbed by dramatic increases in other areas such as iron ore which is up 22 percent, coal up 31 percent. A particularly interesting development there is coal on the export side going outside of North America (to) European markets.”
Middlebrook says a good late grain crop should improve cargo in the last couple of months of the Seaway season. On the Great Lakes, September rebounded somewhat from a slow August. Figures from the Lake Carriers Association says overall, U.S. flagged cargo is down 2 percent this year.