The province must pursue with renewed vigour all opportunities to increase competitiveness, efficiency and productivity, if it wants to secure its share of long-term direct investment and trade in the wake of September 11th. That’s the message delivered by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) to a Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at Queen’s Park as part of the consultations for the 2002 provincial budget.
“Recent disruptions in cross-border truck traffic and the announced auto plant closing in Oakville, are a wake-up call that underscores Ontario’s dependence upon and inter-relationship between trade with the United States, long-term direct investment in key industries like automotive manufacturing, and an efficient freight transportation system." said David Bradley, president, Ontario Trucking Association.
(The submission is available at: http://www.ontruck.org/submissions/2002/pdf/2002PrebudgetSubmission.pdf
Bradley told the all-party committee that "prior to September 11th, problems at the border were basically ‘the truckers’ problem,’ there was little understanding of concepts like supply chain management, continental logistics and Just-In-Time(JIT) inventory systems. Nor was the fact that those systems are built around truck transportation fully appreciated or that transportation costs are an important component of the final cost of goods sold." Trucks haul about 74% of Ontario’s trade with the United States.
He said that because of Ontario’s dependency upon trade with the United States (accounting for at least one-third of provincial GDP) "an overall industrial competitiveness strategy is needed." Bradley cited the fact that Mexico’s share of imports into the United States, including key northern states, has been growing exponentially over the past 10 years, while Canada’s share remains stagnant.
"An industrial competitiveness strategy needs pro-active and energetic policies that are broad-based and consistent. It needs a regulatory framework that is efficient and effective. The network of infrastructure to support trade and economic growth must be available. That includes highways, municipal feeder roads and the border. And, it needs to be supported by a tax system that is competitive, and treats all sectors fairly and equitably."