June 16, 2021 | Circular No. 11285

Dear Member,

The Federation attended the most recent meeting of the Commodity Supply Chain Table, which is a transportation stakeholder forum chaired by Transport Canada’s rail policy division.  The meeting was attended by over 120 participants and included presentations on the National Trade Corridors Fund,  the status of Canada’s international trade agreements and negotiations, and Canada’s upcoming economic and transportation forecasts.

The Federation was also asked to provide a presentation at the meeting, which focused on recent trends and challenges in the international freight sector and stakeholder concerns regarding the congestion issues plaguing supply chains and shipping.

You will find below a summary of the presentations provided at the meeting, as well as links to the relevant documents.

National Trade Corridors Fund

  • Established in 2017 as $2.3 billion, 11-year program
  • Focus on projects that will address critical transportation bottlenecks and build stronger, more resilient trade routes
  • Merit-based, competitive program with oversight from Transport Canada (evaluation of applications, selection of projects)
  • Initial funding envelope depleted after three rounds of proposals – 89 projects across Canada (38 in western Canada, 10 in Ontario, 12 in Quebec, 14 in Atlantic Canada, 15 in Arctic and North)
  • NTCF was recapitalized in 2021 federal budget through allocation of another $1.9 billion over four years
  • Click HERE for link to full presentation

Canada’s International Trade Agreements and Negotiations

  • Canada has a growing network of Free Trade Agreements – CETA (EU), CPTPP (Trans-Pacific), CUSMA (North America), bilateral FTAs
  • Ongoing FTA negotiations with Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay), Pacific Alliance (Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Peru)
  • Exploratory talks on potential trade agreements with Indonesia and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations)
  • Upcoming negotiations with U.K. (as per Canada-U.K. Trade Continuity Agreement) and Ukraine (on modernization of existing Canada-Ukraine FTA)
  • Click HERE for link to full presentation

Upcoming Economic and Transportation Forecast

  • Economic activity fell in Canada by 5% in 2020 but will recover fully in 2021
  • Recovery underway for most of our trading partners – GDP growth expected to be higher in emerging markets (China, India, South-East Asia)
  • Transportation demand expected to remain robust in short term
  • Transport Canada working to improve its economic and transportation forecasts based on consultation and feedback from stakeholders
  • New products under development include short and long term transportation outlooks based on region, corridor and mode, as well as detailed commodity outlooks
  • Click HERE for link to full presentation

 Recent Trends and Challenges in the International Freight Sector (SFC Presentation)

  • Containerized supply chains are under significant pressure due to record levels of demand for imported goods that began last summer
  • Key challenges include congestion and slow turnaround times at ports and terminals, shortages of vessel space and equipment, unpredictable sailing and arrival schedules
  • Carriers are implementing a variety of measures to make space and equipment available, but have limited tools for prioritizing cargo and ensuring its ability to move
  • Current market is not sustainable – challenges will start to resolve once demand for containerized goods stabilizes
  • Click HERE for link to speaking notes and HERE for link to accompanying slides

The Commodity Supply Chain Table normally meets twice a year.  It’s next meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 2021.

Members with questions of comments on any of the foregoing are invited to contact the undersigned.


Karen Kancens
Vice President