Transport experts, business leaders map out NA infrastructure plan

LONDON, Ont. — A coalition of trade groups and businesses is calling for cross-border barriers to be removed so that freight can flow more smoothly.

Bottlenecks at borders and insufficient infrastructure is crimping U.S.-Canada and intra-provincial trade, experts say.

"Increasingly, companies that outsource the production of finished products to low-cost countries are shipping those products directly to the U.S. instead of keeping those inventories in Canada.

As a result, not only is Canada losing manufacturing jobs, but also logistical activities, such as warehousing and transportation are moving south of the border," said Jacques Roy, Professor of Logistics and Operations Management, HEC Montréal.

He added that more research is required to better understand how global sourcing is changing the flow of goods and its impact on the Ontario-Québec Trade Corridor.

During a recent workshop at the Lawrence National Centre, Richard Ivey School of Business, more than 100 business representatives, government officials, academia, and non-governmental organizations discussed solutions to improving Canada’s transportation system in order to seize growth opportunities.

Additional Canada-US crossing capacity would help
expedite the transport of goods, notes OTA

Recommendations, including harmonized regulatory barriers to facilitate inter- and intra-provincial trade and an integrated continental North American freight transportation system to ease congestion at borders, were unveiled in a report from the Lawrence National Centre yesterday.

"Canada requires state-of-the-art port operations, rail and road systems that are geared for the future and not the past," said Brian Gerrior, general manager, Imports, Sears Canada. "… Customs clearances that allow goods to pass freely over borders with minimal disruption and Free Trade Agreements in place globally, are needed in order to position Canada at the forefront of international trade and development."

According to Jennifer Fox, assistant manager of Operations for the Ontario Trucking Association, border congestion has increased despite the fact that there are fewer trucks on the road.

She suggests harmonization of regulatory barriers, such as long-combination vehicles (LCVs) currently allowed in five Canadian provinces and 18 U.S. states and weight parity between dual and wide based single tires in Canada as solutions.

Other infrastructure improvements, such as more rest stops along the Ontario-Québec corridor and additional crossing capacity at the Detroit-Windsor Gateway would also expedite the transport of goods.

"These regulatory changes, if implemented, would address capacity concerns, environmental issues, increase supply chain efficiencies and the cross-border movement of goods and people," said Fox.

For other proposed recommendations from the workshop click here.


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