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Seaway Corporations Lead Great Lakes Trade Mission to Belgium and the Netherlands

(Cornwall, October 2, 2003) - The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) and the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) are leading a 23-member delegation of U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes executives to Belgium and the Netherlands for the Seaway's 26th trade mission from Oct. 3 - 11. The delegates will promote the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System as a safe, reliable and competitive route for exporting and importing goods.

Programs and meetings during the week-long mission will provide opportunities for delegates to make contacts with European maritime industry leaders and decision-makers. The delegation represents a cross section of the maritime industry: port and terminal operators, shipowners and operators, shipping agents and labor.

"Trade missions serve a key role in promoting the entire Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System," said SLSDC Administrator Albert Jacquez. "Marketing our System's competitive advantages demands that we reach out, person-to-person, to new and existing customers, educating and updating them on what we have to offer: expertise, technology, customer-focus, and safe, efficient, reliable service."

Canadian counterpart, President and CEO Richard "Dick" Corfe, noted the importance of European markets to the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System. "We recognize that the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp remain one of our best opportunities to grow our business," said Corfe. "In addition to promoting our system's competitive advantages, we are also keen on observing and adapting for our own use the best practices applied in European ports."

Delegates arrive in Brussels and travel to the Ports of Ghent, Zeebrugge, and Antwerp in Belgium; the latter port is one of the largest container ports in Europe. After receiving country briefings they begin a series of meetings with shippers, government officials and marine professionals. An integral part of the trade mission is learning as well as teaching. After touring ports and terminals to get an up close look at existing infrastructure and discussing planned upgrades, the delegates will conduct an education and information seminar about the Seaway for local maritime officials.

The delegation will spend two days in the Netherlands, splitting its time between the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In addition to meeting with steel experts and seeking new customers, the Seaway delegates are interested in hearing details on short sea shipping operations that could be adopted in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.

Since 1985, Seaway trade missions have visited 29 countries, oftentimes traveling to European ports and cities, which comprise the major overseas export-import trade partner for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system. This latest mission, scheduled October 3-11, marks the fifth trade mission to Rotterdam, the fourth to Antwerp and second to Amsterdam.

Seaway trade missions have historically helped attract new business in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System in cruising, project cargoes, and forestry products. The cruising industry, largely absent from the System for decades, has recently been growing steadily with the addition of vessels such as the French luxury yacht Le Levant and the German cruise vessel C. Columbus. In the past three years the Dutch carrier Jumbo Shipping of Rotterdam has moved six outsized project cargoes through the port of Duluth for the Athabasca Oil Sands Project fields in northern Alberta. Reaching out to Dutch carrier Wagenborg resulted in that company designing more than a dozen ships capable of transiting the Seaway. Lumber shipments from Germany to the Lakehead in Duluth, MN have opened a niche market officials there are optimistic will grow.