Customs, logistics firm pained by border traffic slump

TORONTO — The largest Canadian customs broker is blaming a significant drop in Canada-U.S. commercial traffic for steep losses in its most recent quarter.

Livingston International Income Fund, which employs 2,500 people on both sides of the border, stopped distributing dividends to unitholders this week, reports the Journal of Commerce.

Declines in both exports and imports between the two NAFTA nations contributed to a 26 percent drop in year-to-year earnings ($51 million from $70 million in 1Q 2008) for the Toronto-based customs broker and logistics provider.

Stats Canada reports this week that exports to the U.S. decreased 4.1 percent in March while imports decreased 4.7 percent.

Last month, the Public Border Operators Association, which represents crossings between Michigan and New York with Ontario, reported major commercial traffic declines at its six bridges (four of which are the busiest between Canada and the U.S.).

The Ambassador Bridge — the busiest commercial crossing in North America, located between Windsor, Ont. and Detroit — experienced truck traffic declines of 35 percent, down 337,794 crossings from 518,596 in the period last year.

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