UPS exec: dont lose sight Of NAFTA trade potential

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — As important as China has become to world trade, Canada and the United States should work together to solve security and transportation bottlenecks because North American trade still dwarfs levels with the emerging Asian power, according to a top UPS executive.

For all the excitement and concern expressed about Chinas growth, I think we sometimes lose sight of not only how robust trade is in our backyards, but the possibilities ahead for those backyards, David Abney, the president of UPS International, told the Canadian Importers and Exporters Association.

Its easy to overlook the impact NAFTA has had on North American economies since 1993, he continued. In that 13-year period, real GDP growth is 48 percent for the U.S., 40 percent for Mexico and 49 percent for Canada. In fact this year, U.S. trade with NAFTA is 30 percent of total U.S. trade while trade with China is 11 percent. U.S. imports this year from NAFTA nations are 27 percent of total imports, while those from China are 14 percent

Abney, serving as the keynote speaker on the second day of the annual national conference, addressed an audience of roughly 250 importers and exporters assembled to discuss the theme, Capitalizing on Global Change. Cross-border trade is changing the world, the UPS executive agreed, noting that 80 percent of the global GDP is expected to be international trade by 2020.

But business and government leaders should not lose sight of the fact that geographic proximity is still an advantage in business in many situations, Abney said. Canadian and American firms can compete with Chinas growing clout as long as they dont let neglect undermine potential growth.

Congested shipping ports, overburdened airports and inadequate railway and highway services are slowing down North American supply chains, the senior UPS executive explained. Infrastructure is going to be an increasingly important key to our economic development future. We need to elevate infrastructure on the priority list. China, with its aggressive road and rail building, certainly has.
Another serious issue is security, Abney continued.

Yes, terrorism is a threat. Security is an important consideration for all of us. Yet, we cant let security hamstring us or it will become impossible to achieve our goals.

Think about this for a moment, Abney continued. A one-day delay in crossing the border makes China as close to the U.S. as Canada from an express shipment point of view. We must accelerate in adopting technology to enhance security.

Our two countries Canada and the U.S. share a lot , he concluded. Our two countries are the best in the world at nurturing business innovation. We have the ideas and the means to turn todays challenges into opportunities, if we have the will to execute.

UPS is the worlds largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. UPS’s stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS), and the company can be found on the Web at To get UPS news direct, visit

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