Representatives from the State of Washington have put together what they see as a viable solution to lowly little Prince Rupert taking away containers from the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
You see, they figure the problem is that Prince Rupert and Vancouver have an unfair advantage because Canadian ports don’t charge the Harbour Maintenance Tax that is charged on every TEU unloaded in American ports. Their solution? Take away the tax seen in the U.S. and apply a fee every container entering the country from Canada or Mexico.
The senators call it “leveling the field” for U.S. ports, despite the fact that anyone with any semblance of logic can see the true intention is to punish Canadian ports to the benefit of U.S. ports. That isn’t leveling the field, that is protectionism at its best.
But punishment aside, the senators seem to have this hair-brained idea that shipping companies are choosing to come to Canada, and more specifically Prince Rupert, because this way they can avoid the Harbour Maintenance Tax. It makes you wonder if they have ever spoken with people in the shipping industry or if, as it appears, this is just a way of rallying the proverbial troops to win over their support in the next election.
Shippers aren’t choosing to come to Prince Rupert instead of Seattle or Tacoma because of the Harbour Maintenance Tax, they’re choosing it because it’s closer and more efficient. Not having to travel an extra day or two and expend the extra fuel is certainly a bonus, and being able to go from the terminal to Chicago in under 100 hours and labour certainty for the forseeable future only sweeten the pot.
Now the million dollar question: Should Prince Rupert be worried about this pending legislation?
Aside from the fact that Fairview Terminal has established a world-class reputation, under the rules of NAFTA, the federal government would fight any such legislation tooth and nail.
And if not, they say turn about is fair play. How much does Canada import from the U.S. again?