The terrorist attacks committed against the United States on September 11 will cause severe gridlock at the Canada-U.S. border for truck traffic and trade, Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley said yesterday at the Council of Logistics Management’s annual meeting.

"The challenge now for all of us is to accept that things will be different; that business-as-usual is not what it used to be, and to devise appropriate strategies to move forward,” Bradley said. “The domestic challenge the governments of the U.S. and Canada face will be how best to balance the need for increased security with the need to keep the economy moving."

Bradley said border policy is an area where the clash of these two priorities is most evident. The U.S. and Canada share the world's longest undefended border.

"In the days immediately following the terrorist attack, the border between Canada and the U.S. was virtually paralyzed as the U.S. Custom Service was placed on high alert,” he said. “This situation created problems for several industries that rely on just-in-time shipments of parts to keep the assembly lines running as well as for truckers hauling perishable commodities and livestock."

Bradley said, however, that heightened security should not necessarily lead to border delays if both nations can work together. He added that the economies of the two countries are too integrated, and too many jobs in too many communities on both sides of the border rely on trade moving efficiently.

"Over $1-billion daily worth of trade crosses the U.S.-Canada border every year and this is expected to double again before this decade is out,” Bradley said, adding that close to 70% of U.S.-Canada trade moves by truck, with about 14 million truck trips across the border.

He added that just-in-time (JIT) inventory systems, synchronous manufacturing, and other time-sensitive production and distribution practices have been built around the truck. To keep the truck a viable mode for JIT, Bradley suggests more focus be paid to targeting enforcement at the perimeter of each country – a system called perimeter clearance approach. He said this strategy already has strong supporters in both countries.