Monitoring by Resilience360 reveals that continued redeployment of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel to the US-Mexico border will take personnel away from the US-Canada border, as the Central American migrant crisis at the southern border continues to develop. Resilience360 has monitored such redeployments on the southern border since October 30, 2018, with the latest developments occurring on April 12, 2019.
What makes these developments different, however, is the impending impact that these redeployments will have on the US-Canada border, especially over the course of June 28 through July 5, encompassing the Canada Day and Fourth of July long holiday weekends on both sides of the border. The northern border between the US and Canada, like the southern border between the US and Mexico, is dominated by cross- border trade across sectors such as agriculture, including dairy and poultry; automotive; and pharmaceuticals.
Redeployments may lead to delays
Fewer personnel at the Canadian border will not only complicate ground-based cross-border rail and road cargo transportation, but industry sources suggest that this will also impact south-bound air and sea travel due to a personnel shortage. Furthermore, the Canada Day and Fourth of July weekends promise an additional surge of bi-directional cross-border traffic that will test CBP’s capacity, thus creating the potential for slow-downs of cargo as attention is given to passenger traffic. While the redeployment will in turn lead to more personnel at the US-Mexico border, this is not anticipated to ease cross-border commerce on the southern side, as the redeployed personnel are expected to be sent away from the major ports of entry to areas where irregular crossings occur.
As observed during similar redeployments in the past, this can result to extensive delays. From October 30, 2018 through at least April 12, 2019, the US-Mexico border has seen periodic delays due to these personnel allocations that have often impacted time-sensitive supply chains, such as agriculture and electronics manufacturing, involving cross-border commerce. The pinnacle of these delays was the reported 12 hours faced by cargo transporters at El Paso, TX ports of entry. Delays such as these would vary in their severity between passenger and cargo lanes depending on time and day, yet such considerations are of the essence with time sensitive cargo, whether shipped over the US-Mexico or US-Canada border.
Monitor wait times and adjust accordingly to avoid cargo slowdown
The impact of this redeployment is expected to be short term, given ongoing negotiations by the Trump Administration with the governments of Mexico and Guatemala to address the migrant crisis. However, given the immediacy of such redeployment over a holiday weekend, shippers on both sides of the northern border are advised to plan accordingly.
Shippers are advised to continuously monitor border wait times, and where possible, make adjustments to facilitate movement of cargo. Depending on the number of ports of entry available for a destination, the ability to make real-time adjustments based on projected delays can make a notable difference. Those shipping by ground should anticipate the possibility of truckers exceeding their allotted hours due to delays and should make provisions accordingly for that eventuality.