Importing and exporting new vehicles and auto parts to and from Canada is expected to run more smoothly once the federal government finishes consolidating a pair of auto terminals at the Port of Vancouver.
The federal government is spending $42.7 million to consolidate the operations of the Annacis Auto Terminal and the Richmond Terminal to accommodate the growing Asian automobile market and improve rail operations in the area.
It’s the most expensive of five projects, which in total will cost $102 million at the port.
Without offering details, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Carla Qualtrough said in a statement that the money will be spent on “expansion and optimization” of the port’s auto terminals.
Neither the Port of Vancouver nor the Ministry of Transportation immediately responded to request for comment.
According to the federal government, trade with Asia (excluding the Middle East) between 2015 and 2018 grew by 18.9 per cent to $199.2 billion. And according to the Port of Vancouver’s website, automakers imported an estimated 424,806 vehicles through the terminals in 2018, up eight per cent from 393,010 units in 2016.
David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada, praised the investment.
“This is positive for our members as the western ports have been challenging for some time,” said Adams, whose association represents the Canadian interests of 22 brands based overseas. “Pretty much all of the volume of the Japanese and Korean manufacturers comes in through those ports.
"That said, both Toyota and Honda, at least, are largely North American companies, building the majority of the vehicles they sell in North America in North America.
“As Canada continues to grow its trade through its trade agreements CETA, CTPP, Canada/Korea, etc., the ports on both sides of the country require investment to accommodate increased import and export volumes.”
Last year, about 198,000 vehicles were imported from Japan alone, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).
“With expanding trade, the investment will help in alleviating congestion and delays as vehicles are off-loaded, processed and transferred mostly onto rail for shipment to markets across Canada,” JAMA Corporate Secretary David Worts.
The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association didn't respond to a request for comment.
In 2016, about 1.5 million metric tonnes of industrial, auto and vehicle parts moved through the port.
Flavio Volpe, head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association said "anything that streamlines the process is good for business."
"But the reality is volume parts shipments are not leaving Canada on ship."