October 2016 Strategy for the Great Lakes and St.lawrence River Martime Transportation System

Context of the Conference

On June 15 in Detroit, Michigan, United States governors and premiers of Canadian provinces made public the first “regional strategy” designed to increase shipping in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence river. This strategy proposes an integrated vision of the maritime system of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and calls for better coordination of decisions between different jurisdictions and cooperation.

It plan to double marine trade, reduce the environmental footprint of the transport network in the region and support its industrial core. The strategy is expected to boost the regional economy by 5 000 billion US $ and create jobs in all regions.


The conference

The Conference of Governors and Premiers of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence (Conference) is a North American organization created in 1983 to encourage and facilitate environmentally responsible economic development in this region. Its action aims to promote regional cooperation agreements on issues of common interest, including the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes, water management, control of invasive species, international trade and the economic development the development of the maritime economy and tourism.
The work of the Conference concerns environmental protection and also economic development.  In 2009, in order to highlight environnemental priorities, President Barack Obama launched a restoration program with a fund of US $ 2 billion.

The nine key environmental priorities are the follwing: 

  • Ensure the region’s prosperity by growing the economy and creating jobs through the efficient use of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River maritime system.
  • Maintain and continuously improve a world-class regional transportation network with an integrated maritime system.
  • Establish a regional framework for achieving shared objectives, launching collaborative initiatives and leveraging funding opportunities for the maritime transportation system.
  • Improve the efficiency, competitiveness and resiliency of maritime transportation and the region’s multimodal transportation system by improving dynamic connections with other forms of transportation such as waterways, highways and railways.
  • Facilitate regional collaboration in sectors related to maritime transportation including commerce, tourism, ports, natural resources, environment, energy, agriculture and other issues.
  • Leverage the maritime transportation system as a sustainable, socially responsible and cost-effective enterprise to stimulate regional and international trade.
  • Protect the ecosystems of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region through the socially responsible development and utilization of the maritime transportation system.
  • Encourage the development of a modern and efficient Great Lakes shipping fleet.
  • Maintain and improve the maritime system so as to help mitigate surface transportation congestion and negative environmental and social impacts.
  • Expand maritime tourism and cruising opportunities on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system.

The Conference is also promoting for economic developpement. The members of the Conference have adopted a resolution concerning trade between Canada and the United States. This resolution provides that governments must work together in a spirit of reciprocity, in order to facilitate the adoption of public policy contracts. This resolution aims to establish common rules so that US and Canadian federal governments recognize the integrated nature of their economies.

The Conference affirms its international presence through its commercial offices. These are located in Canada, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Germany and China, and are mandated to undertake the promotion of the region great Lakes and St. Lawrence.

The Conference also initiated several trade missions worldwide: Poland and Romania for November 7 – 11 2016, Vietnam and Indonesia for  February 27  – 3 March 2017, and Mexico for April  3 – 7 2017.

The following documents can be found at the address of the Conference :

To know more :  Conference of Great Lakes and St-Laurence river

The economic situation in the Great lakes region and St-Laurence river



The Great Lakes market has  100 million inhabitants and is the third largest economy in the world ($ 5.8 billion in 2015). Its economic importance exceeds that of Germany, France, Brazil and the United Kingdom. The region also forms a unique ecosystem that contains almost 20% of the freshwater reserves on the planet. This is expressed through commitments on sustainable development as a driver of economic growth.

To know more :  Clusters and Regional Economies: Implications for the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Region

The maritime strategy of the Great Lakes and St-Lawrence river


Maritime transport is used in 90% of international trade. According to the Conference, it is growing rapidly and is expected to double by 2030. Among the drivers of this growth, are continuous innovations, the expansion projects of the Panama and Suez canals, increasing the size and efficiency of container transport, expansion of coastal ports and investments in infrastructure in the Baltic sea region, across Europe, Asia and around the world.

The maritime strategy aims to maintain and increase the competitiveness of the region in a global industry growth environment. It aims to double maritime trade in the region while mitigating environmental impacts and supporting industrial development. To fulfill these objectives, specific actions are planned on the following topics:

  • Increasing the efficiency of maritime transport and reduce costs;
    Develop new markets;
  • Increasing the surrounding economic activity in the transport system;
    Getting results and manage the future.

To know more : Strategy for Great Lakes St.Laurence river maritime transpotation system

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