Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alaska Marine Terminal may soon be back on the front burner with the era of President Trump set to arrive

With a new Administration set to take power in Washington DC
the National Post  has put a focus on the dispute over the Alaska
Marine Highway Terminal in Prince Rupert

As 2016 comes to an end and the dawn of a seismic shift in US politics about to take place, the National Post is taking a look at the long running issue on the North Coast of the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal.

In an item published today, the National newspaper puts a renewed focus on the fate of the transportation link to the north and how pressures to bend to the Buy America process from the United States may increase with the start of the Administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

John Ivison, one of the Post's main political columnists puts the AMHS terminal at the start of a list of what could be a larger problem for Canadian trade officials.  He calls attention to the potential shift in Canada/US relations as the U. S. embraces a more pronounced Buy America approach, with the Post columnist calling the small ferry terminal at Fairview Bay one of the first potential flash points on the new bilateral universe between the two nations.

Ivison recounts some of the history of the dispute between the USA and Canada, a cross border spat that has seen a significant delay for the plans dating back to 2014 to overhaul the ferry terminal in Prince Rupert.

In October, Mayor Lee Brain provided a review of his September trip to Alaska for the Southeast Conference in Petersburg, offering both a current update to the AMHS situation, along with his longer term vision for transportation between the North Coast and Alaska.

You can review that item from the blog here, our October blog post also provides some background to the long trail of delays related to the AMHS facilities in Prince Rupert.

According to the National Post story, a threat to cut the service to Prince Rupert was delivered to Mayor Lee Brain through a letter provided by the State Deputy Commission of Transport Michael Neussel, with the Alaskan official noting that with Alaska considering reductions in its fleet and route structure, the lack of a suitable dock in Prince Rupert would be a factor when it comes to consideration of those changes.

The review of events from the Post also notes that the Alaskans still are holding to a goal of having the Prince Rupert dock to be rebuilt at a cost of 10 to 20 million dollars, calling on Mayor Brain to lobby both the Provincial and Federal Government to revoke or amend the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act which was put in place last January.

The Post states that they had attempted to seek clarification on how the Alaskan plan would work around the current Buy American rules (let alone any new push from a Trump administration we imagine) but could not reach either Mayor Brain, or the Alaska representatives for comment prior to the publishing of their article.

While the Alaskan official seems to indicate that there is some form of movement in play to address the issue of the AMHS terminal, according to the Post, Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has stated that the Federal government is unaware of any formal proposal to move the project forward.

The remainder of the Post article explores how the Federal government is making plans on trade when it comes to the approaching new Trump administration, with the prospect of potential trade flare ups among the main concern when it comes to a new mantra of America First from the USA.

Should the US Government turn its focus on delivering on the new President's declaration to put American interests first, the Alaska Ferry Terminal may not be the only Prince Rupert facility to become a flash point between the two nations.

With much of the movement of arriving cargo through the Port of Prince Rupert destined for American destinations, cross border transit could also be on the radar for a more insular United States that is determined to protect American jobs.

That could be another issue that the National Post may want to keep an eye on for any follow up articles when it comes to the impact on the Canadian economy of the approaching Trump years.

The Port of Prince Rupert is a shipment point that delivers product
deep into the United States through the CN Rail network

While we might think that we are far from any potential International political fray tucked up as we are just under the Alaska panhandle, the arrival of the new President and his four year term could provide for a range of trade concerns that may have a significant impact on the Northwest in any number of ways.

The full National Post article can be reviewed here.

You can find the latest information on Ferry transportation to and from the North Coast from our archive page here.

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