BEIJING, China — While Canada is positioning itself as the North American gateway of choice for China, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says the government will have to put its money where its mouth is to make that a reality.
"More trade means more freight for truckers, but the transportation system in Canada is already strained and in need of new investment in capacity across all modes," said CTA CEO, David Bradley, at a conference in Beijing as a guest of the Chinese Road Transport Association, the international road union and the Chinese Ministry of Communications.
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin recently met with Chinese President Hu Jintao to further develop the Canadian gateway plan. The two leaders agreed to double trade between Canada and China over the next five years. However, Bradley says the Canadian government will first have to invest in its infrastructure.
"What is the strategy and, most importantly, how much money is the federal government prepared to invest? Or is Canada prepared to remain the only major industrialized country on the planet not to have a national highway policy, for example?" he asked.
Over the last 10 years, China has built about 35,000 kilometres of new highway capacity, Bradley pointed out. It will also be building another 85,000 km over the next 20 years.
"Our highways and our ports don’t have the capacity to compete unless we get serious," Bradley insisted.
He added: "China is changing the entire balance of the world economy. No sector will be immune to this. In trucking we are already seeing congestion at our ports, labour unrest and high fuel prices. Not only will we need to build on NAFTA to secure the competitiveness of North America – we in Canada especially will need to broaden our economic perspective beyond the Canada/US trade relationship."
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