Pandemic border protests rattle livestock and auto parts, hampering Canada-US trade | world news

By Julie Gordon and Rod Nickel

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Protests in Canada over vaccination mandates have disrupted two key border crossings into the United States and are rumbling hundreds of millions of dollars a day in trade ranging from livestock to car parts.

Protests demanding an end to federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates for cross-border truckers began January 28 in Canada’s capital Ottawa and spread to Canada-US border crossings in Windsor, Ontario and Coutts, Alberta. . [L1N2UJ14P]

Canada ships 75% of its merchandise exports to the United States, and the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit typically handles 8,000 trucks per day, representing a quarter of all cross-border trade, or approximately C$500 million. ($393.6 million) per day.

Approximately C$100 million worth of auto parts crosses the border every day, and many shipments are scheduled to arrive when manufacturers need them.

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“Twenty-four to 48 hours is critical, and I remain confident that we will resolve this issue within that critical timeframe,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the Association of Automotive Parts Manufacturers, who spoke with the province and government. federal.

Truckers blocked traffic on Monday evening, closing the bridge, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said, but Canadian police later tweeted that lanes to the United States had been opened. Tuesday afternoon, the passage to Canada remained closed.

Trucks were diverted to the Blue Water Bridge, 109 kilometers (68 miles) north on the border between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan, which remained open, but with long delays for commercial traffic to Canada.

In Coutts, Alberta, protesters disrupted cross-border traffic for more than a week. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Tuesday he had approved a request from Alberta for additional police officers.

The intermittent shutdowns have bogged down the flow of U.S. corn to Alberta, Canada’s largest cattle-producing province, as well as the cattle and meat trade, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said in a statement.

Canada is transporting cattle for slaughter south through Montana, but those shipments are on hold, said Jay Bodner, executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. Canadian cattle shippers want to avoid trucks of live cattle being delayed at the border due to animal welfare concerns, he said.

The Coutts crossing generates C$44 million a day of two-way trade, said David MacLean, vice-president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

Much of Alberta’s manufacturing sector relies on US steel imports to make parts for the oil and gas industry, such as pumps and valves.

“We have countless examples of Alberta manufacturers having equipment sitting across the border, diverted through North Dakota and Saskatchewan,” MacLean said, adding that the U.S. is also the market for it. Alberta’s largest export.

“We can’t sell products sitting on the freeway.”

($1 = 1.2704 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Julie Gordon in Ottawa; additional reporting by Amran Abocar in Toronto and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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