The federal government has announced a multi-million-dollar investment for the Port of Montreal, meant to facilitate exports following a new trade deal with Europe.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel said it’s important for the port to expand because the Canadian economy depends on exportation.

Ottawa will contribute $43.7 million to the overhaul. The Montreal Port Authority will cover the balance of the cost, which totals $132 million.

The expansion will include a new terminal to increase container capacity by 2017. The project will also improve road access, offering a better flow of truck traffic. Every day, there are 2500 trucks coming in and out of the port, making it the second busiest port in Canada after Vancouver and the fifth-largest on the eastern North American coastline.

In all, this development will create 2500 new jobs.

Lebel said the makeover is “directly linked” to the recently signed free-trade deal between Canada and the European Union.

“We can only hope that the Port of Montreal becomes even more of a regional hub and that trade with the EU increases exponentially," Lebel said. “We have to export. We are a country of 35 million in population,” said Lebel. “It’s important to invest in infrastructure. It will permit us to export more and more easily.”

President of the Montreal board of trade Michel Leblanc also explained that companies should increase their exporting efforts and hopes they take advantage of the new project.

“Use this announcement to kick start activities towards Europe,” said Leblanc. “The Europe economy will resume growth eventually. We better be ready with the free trade agreement.”

Leblanc agreed on the necessity to improve its cargo handling capabilities.

“We’ve been saying for a long time that growth of our economy will depend on our exports,” said Leblanc. “The Port of Montreal is expected to increase its capacity, but also its volume and it has to be able to follow.”

Also on hand was Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who said that as a port of entry, remaining competitive is vital; otherwise, people will invest somewhere else.

He said the renovations will make the city's port "more competitive and will increase (its) capacity to handle a much larger volume of merchandise."

Renovations are scheduled to be completed by 2018.

With files from The Canadian Press