Carriers brace for longer-term impact of terrorist attacks At press time the transportation industry was still in a wait and see position with regard to the direction and impact of heightened border security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the US. Also being called into question was the industry’s ability to service customers with JIT delivery if such heightened security were to continue.
September 1, 2001
"Right now, in the intermediate period, the JIT cycle has been impacted. But we've got to understand that JIT can be any length of time, as long as it arrives just in time," said George Kuhn, executiv...
“Right now, in the intermediate period, the JIT cycle has been impacted. But we’ve got to understand that JIT can be any length of time, as long as it arrives just in time,” said George Kuhn, executive director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders’ Association.
“Companies will have to respond to not only border issues, but what does this do to the economy and our avoidance of recession. Consumer tastes may change based on what’s going on around them,” says Lisa MacGillivray, president of the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association.
“I think, on the JIT issue, there’s been a little bit of an evolution. The logisticians of the world will have to shore that up. But is a border shutdown enough to make JIT go in another direction? It’s about capacity. I would have thought that (after the incidents) freight would move to rail, but there’s just no excess capacity there,” she says.
Long-term, though, Kuhn says he believes that a coordinated effort between Canada and the US on border security is now a more likely situation than ever before.
“Security is no longer a national issue but a global issue. Canada’s economy totally depends on good access to the US market. If we’re forced to bring about a coordinated approach to border security, we should at least expect to almost come to the point where we can say there is no border anymore between the US and Canada,” he says.
Two-way trade in goods between the countries jumped to $627 billion last year compared with $198 billion in 1988. Meantime, staffing levelsat border points haven’t kept up, says David Bradley, chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA). Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, the US has shifted its focus away from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, Bradley says.
“I am hopeful they will arrive at solutions and the appropriate investments will be made,” he adds, pointing out that border delays are costing Canada’s truckers $1 million an hour in fuel and lost productivity. “We have to find a way for customs services on both sides of the border to work closer together.”
So far cooperation among carriers, shippers and government is evident. During the heaviest delays both shipping and trucking associations were calling for some kind of prioritization of shipments, and for some leniency on the part of government with respect to hours of service for the truckers. Bradley said that he had had excellent cooperation from shipper groups and both the US and Canadian governments had agreed to exercise flexibility in how they view drivers whose hours of service records were adversely affected by the lengthy delays at border crossings (although at press time Canada’s position was inferred by statements made by the transport minister rather than stated in a formal document.)
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