I was, I would say, pleasantly surprised when I checked out the 64-page report from the Federal Maritime Commission about the movement of containers into the country through Canada.
It’s a well written report that literally looks at every aspect of importing containers through Canada as opposed to the US, taking things like cost, time, security, legislation and more into consideration. It recognizes the reason shippers may choose Prince Rupert over the US and does a bit of a dissection of each of the arguments for or against using Canada over the US.
Frankly I was expecting a stronger suggestion that there be some sort of tax or fee on imports through Canada to help off-set the Harbour Maintenance Tax. Although the idea was mentioned in the report, it was far from a focal point or a strongly worded suggestion, and it was even recognized that doing so may or may not be the answer.
The reality is it makes good business sense, as mentioned in the report, to have multiple points of entry into the US market in case of political or natural incidents that could put a kink in the distribution chain. If something is happening in Canada the product still gets there from the US and vice-versa- essentially putting all of your eggs in one basket.
What I was a bit surprised by was that the Federal Maritime Commission essentially said on the last page that the key to making US ports competitive with Canadian ones was to increase investments in that area of the economy. Rather than pointing the finger at what Canada does, the commission seemed to point it right back at the US and what they aren’t doing.
What the government now does with the report is anybody’s guess (especially given that most US government decisions are split down party lines). If they move ahead with trying to impose a tax or levy on containers coming through Canada then I imagine, or at least hope, they’ll have a fight on their hands from the BC and Canadian government. Ideally the US will listen to the reports and invest more to lower the competitive gap as opposed to trying to punish Canadian companies and workers for the shortcomings of the US trade sector.
Regardless, I’m glad the process is over and the report is now out there for the public. Hopefully creates a bit more certainty on the waters and in the community.
And I encourage anyone who is interested in this kind of thing to check out the report at www.fmc.gov.