Dave Waddell, Windsor Star
February 10, 2021
The Canada-based Automobile Parts Manufacturers Association is reaching out to American trade and industry officials in the White House this week to alert them to the potential pitfalls of a “vaccination gap” developing between the nations.
The United States currently is vaccinating its population at nine times the rate in Canada.
“This is of real concern to us,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe, whose membership is largely concentrated in southwestern Ontario’s automotive supply chain.
“It appears that the Americans may reach their vaccination targets by April, three to six months ahead of us.
“We are economically integrated and any inequity in mobility will cause issues for management of cross-border businesses. We are planning to engage the new administration in Washington on this shortly, with specific regards to aiding Canada (with COVID-19 vaccines) to close the gap in late spring.”
Volpe said the APMA will emphasize the significant Canadian investment in the U.S automotive sector by Ontario’s automotive suppliers operating over 120 plants with about 45,000 employees in 18 states.
The APMA will also contact each newly elected member of congress or senator in those states to ensure they’re aware of the economic benefits of a synchronized approach to vaccination and the border re-opening.
He added it’s also in the U.S. government’s interest to help supply vaccines to its North American trade partners to protect American citizens. Americans travel to Canada and Mexico far more than the rest of the world.
“We’re trying to work the other side, that it’s in American interests to align with us,” Volpe said.
“For instance, we’re getting our supply from Pfizer from a plant in Belgium, but there’s a large Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. What we’re looking at is trying to sync the countries in terms of freer movement.
“Otherwise, it’ll be a challenge dealing with specialists and executive teams moving back and fourth across the border working in plants and launching products in North America.”
A Dec. 8 executive order by former President Donald Trump forbids the shipping of U.S.-produced vaccines to other countries until the domestic population is vaccinated.
Volpe said he’s seen reports that at least 250-million Americans will have received vaccinations by April.
“We risk being left behind,” Volpe said.
“American divisions of companies have an opportunity to take on roles during this gap period that may have been the responsibility of Canadians or Mexicans. Anytime you shift a responsibility, you risk not getting it back.”
Volpe said the APMA is trying to get ahead of the issue by using the U.S. government contacts it built up during the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations. He added the APMA’s efforts are in addition to the Canadian government’s approaches to the new Biden administration.
“I expect a warm reception,” said Volpe of what type of response he expects from the Americans.
“Once they take care of their domestic concerns, there is no real Canada-U.S. border (in trade) between us. It’s in the U.S. government’s interest to have Canadian specialists and executives visit their plants too.”
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