Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/4/2012 (2742 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CentrePort Canada is leading its third business mission to China in as many years, an indication of the inland port's emphasis on developing markets and ongoing business contacts in the second-largest economy in the world.
Specifically, the current mission is to promote a new RFID (radio frequency identification) system and initiatives to improve the security and efficiency of cargo shipments.
The trip coincides with the delivery of the first shipment of Manitoba agricultural commodities using the RFID-tracking technology to the inland port in Chongqing, a large central Chinese city. Government trade officials, commodity producer groups and logistics companies are also on the trip.
Last year, CentrePort signed an agreement with logistics companies in Canada and China and the Chinese company that developed the RFID cargo system with the intent of increasing exports of Manitoba agricultural products to China.
The RFID project is designed to create a cost-effective logistics platform that has a high level of security built in to make it easier for importers and exporters in China and Canada to ensure the safety and reliability of shipments.
Among other things, the thinking is it will partially address rising concerns among Chinese consumers about the authenticity and reliability of food — both imported and domestic — in the Chinese market. But it is designed to be used for both importing and exporting.
The first shipment of 250 tonnes of soybeans from Delmar Commodities of Winkler is to arrive this week in Chongqing.
Delmar's office manager, Darryl Harder, said further shipments may be planned, depending on how well this one goes.
"We want to wait to see how it all falls together," he said. "If it goes well, we might start thinking about some larger volumes."
Garry Sloik of Keystone Vegetable Producers Association is on the trip, investigating a potential potato-starch opportunity in China.
Chad Berry, chairman of the potato producer group, said despite the recent pinch in the local supply of potatoes, producers believe the potential Chinese opportunity would be doable.
"More supply could be generated, because it's a different type of potato that can be grown on different soils," Berry said.
In CentrePort Canada's latest business plan, released last week, development of new measures to improve the security and efficiency of cross-border cargo shipments, including the RFID piece, is one of five key strategic priorities.
A spokesman for CentrePort Canada said development of a secure logistics platform using RFID technology that can give the importer and exporter the certainty that what is shipped is exactly what is being received will integrate well with other strategic priorities.
They include increasing rail services with the development of a common-use rail facility.
The goal is to have industrial land around it where rail-intensive businesses could locate.
"These are initiatives that connect," the spokesman said.
"We have a supply-chain platform, RFID technology, a common-use rail facility. These are not disparate initiatives."
CentrePort recently shuffled its board of directors, naming Don Streuber, CEO of Bison Transport, as its new chairman and Joan Hardy, Richardson International's assistant vice-president transportation, as vice-chairwoman of the board. Kerry Hawkins, founding chairman of CentrePort, will stay on the board.
CentrePort's business plan calls for a slightly reduced budget this year — $1.275 million for 2011-12, down to $1 million for 2012-13.
CentrePort has applied for renewed operational funding and the request is under review by governments.
CentrePort's top five priorities for 2012-13:
— preparing CentrePort Canada lands for development, investment and revenue generation;
— increasing rail services with the development — with government and private-sector partners — of a common-use rail facility;
— working directly with companies on plans for new and expanded operations;
— moving forward on new measures to improve the security and efficiency of cross-border cargo shipments;
— and developing targeted marketing for investors, tenants and site selectors.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.