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Slowed transportation plays havoc on economy

OTTAWA, Ont. -- A hampered transportation network is wreaking havoc on North America's economy.


OTTAWA, Ont. — A hampered transportation network is wreaking havoc on North America’s economy.

Trade groups hope Tuesday’s terrorist attacks will prompt Canada and the U.S. to spend money on their neglected borders.

Two-way trade in goods between the countries jumped to $627 billion last year compared with $198 billion in 1988. Meantime, staffing levels haven’t kept up, says David Bradley, chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), which represents 4,500 trucking companies.

Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S. has shifted its focus away from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, Bradley explains.

“I am hopeful they arrive at solutions and the appropriate investments will be made,” he says, adding 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.”

Assembly plants, which use just-in-time inventory systems, have been slashing production because clogged borders have meant parts shortages.

Ford Motor Co. is temporarily closing five North American plants this week, including one in Canada. Roughly 2,400 of the 2,800 workers at the St. Thomas, Ont., plant will be sent home for the week, says John Arnone, spokesperson for Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd.

Arnone says the company expects enough parts to keep the other five Ontario plants operating next week.

Delays at the border are also starting to create problems at the Toyota assembly plant in Cambridge. The company cancelled an overtime shift because it anticipates it may run short of parts.


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