Inland and coastal shipping are key drivers of the U.S. and Canadian economies. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River navigation system is an efficient, low-cost marine superhighway that connects our cities/towns and businesses to markets throughout North America and around the world. It supports the economic success of a bi-national region with a GDP valued at more than CDN$6 trillion. Marine-related industries also contribute significantly to the health, education and general prosperity of society through supporting well-paying, family-supporting jobs and making a significant contribution to taxes in Canada and the U.S.

Main Economic Impacts

So what’s the impact of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ports?


Regional Map Economic Breakdown

Find out how marine shipping keeps your state/province working.

Investment in Growth

More than $7 billion is being spent on ports, locks and vessel infrastructure to make the bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence navigation system safer, more efficient and environmentally advanced. 


North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, power generators and Canadian households depend on the 230 million metric tons of raw materials and finished goods that are delivered by Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ships every year. This cargo is valued at over CDN$100.5 billion.

Annual Transportation Savings

Marine transportation on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence System provides $3.6 billion (USD) in annual transportation cost savings compared to the next least expensive all-land transportation alternative. This enhances the global competitiveness of North American products and industries and keeps the cost of consumer goods down.

Supporting North American Industries

Go East: As farming technology advances and crop yields grow, the ability to reach export markets by ship will become even more important for Canadian farmers. Find out more >

Most American iron ore – 85 per cent – comes from the mines in northern Minnesota and is shipped through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system. Find out more >

As the world’s largest steel and mining company, ArcelorMittal depends on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterway to ship raw materials to its operations for products ultimately destined for North American markets. Find out more >

Did you know that all of the raw sugar that Canada’s oldest sugar refiner uses to make its products is transported by ship? Find out more >

LafargeHolcim provides the building blocks of our cities and if you live in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region – it’s likely those materials were transported at some point by ship. Find out more >