U.S. Shut Down Could Slow your Trucks: Plan Accordingly

TORONTO — If the American congressional leaders don’t come to some sort of agreement by midnight tonight, you might want to add a little lead time to your next U.S.-bound delivery.

And many logistics planners across the country are already building contingency plans into their schedules.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will have to furlough about 14 percent of its workforce and inspection of food imports will not be curtailed.

The State Department would also continue to process Visa and passport applications, because the government collects fees for those services. However, the process time will be longer in most cases.

In all, about 800,000 American government workers will have their wages cut or limited because of the impasse.

At the heart of the matter is the inability of the Democrats and Republicans to agree on the way forward for a federal spending bill.

The possibility of a government shutdown came up last week at FTR Associates 9th Annual Transportation Outlook. By a show of hands, the audience was asked who thought that a shutdown was going to happen.

Only a few raised their hands.

Still, the prospect of a shutdown does seem upon us. It’s too early to start reacting, said Jonathan Starks, director Transportation Analysis with FTR.

“It really takes a few weeks in order to see any sizable impact,” he told Today’s Trucking.

Asked if they were monitoring the issue, the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association’s (APTA) Jean-Marc Picard said that they were working on it and “trying to get a feel of the size of the impact it will have on border services. I assume it will have some sort of disruption but tough to say on how much of a disruption it will have.”

At this point, it’s a waiting game.

“I really believe it will be solved,” said Bob Tebbutt of Armour Risk Assest Management, “but it’s causing the stocks and the market to be weaker — people have lost confidence in the market. You have a psychological effect on the market, but it will calm down when the House stops the nonsense.”

“There’s always an impact,” Starks said when asked if that psychological effect will ripple into the next quarter. “But if there’s no deal today, it doesn’t mean there won’t be a deal in the next few days.”

“The markets,” he said, “will swing back rather quickly.”

In the meantime?

“I think you plan, but you definitely don’t need to pull the trigger on it just yet.”

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