Wednesday, April 17

Commentary: Growing disruption caused by border blockade requires action

Canadian truckers have brought their pandemic protests to the US border and as the situation persists, Michigan manufacturers are watching closely, and we urge swift resolution to prevent further disruption to the free flow of people and goods between our nations.

Many of the Michigan Manufacturers Association’s members throughout the state have reached out to us about the blockade, seeking information and sharing a general concern — a concern that has grown with each passing hour.

In this world of “just-in-time” deliveries and precisely tuned supply chains, even a day or two of delay can be costly and troublesome. Plant closures and temporary layoffs have already occurred, stressing an already challenged supply chain. As the situation at the border persists, our concerns grow and the economic impact of this requires action.

We have been in personal contact with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Ontario Agent General Earl Provost, as well as the offices of Senator Gary Peters and the Michigan Department of Transportation. I am encouraged that, without exception, each of these leaders is actively engaged and working with every entity of jurisdiction at the local, provincial, state and federal levels to clear the backup at the Ambassador Bridge and in other areas of vital importance to international commerce.

The relationship between Michigan and Canada is crucial to economic security on both sides of the border and the corridor that runs between Detroit and Windsor is vitally important to the Michigan manufacturing base — to the automakers as well as the many other manufacturing subsectors that make up Michigan’s diverse industry. Our industry delivers the largest portion of gross state product and supports more than a half million workers.

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Michigan exports $17.3 billion in goods to Canada annually and we import $33.3 billion from Canada. While all citizens should be free to exercise their right to express their disagreement with government policies, each day this protest continues to prevent crossings at the border in Detroit/Windsor, the more our respective economies will be damaged.

It is our hope is that those involved with the protest and the Canadian government can resolve their differences quickly and that any further public demonstrations take place in a manner that permits the hundreds of millions of dollars in manufactured goods and raw materials that flow across the bridge daily to resume.

Manufacturers have persevered in the face of unimaginable challenges over the past two years. Despite a pandemic, government-ordered shutdowns, workforce upheaval and historic supply chain disruptions, Michigan manufacturers continue to grow, create jobs and make transformational investments in communities large and small, in both of our beautiful peninsulas.

To support the continued economic recovery of Michigan, our nation and our Canadian partners, we urge a rapid solution to the troubling breakdown of commerce at our shared border.

John Walsh is president and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

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