Our trilateral trade bloc is in a sort of limbo, stuck between the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994, and the floundering United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which the countries’ leaders signed on Nov. 30, 2018, but has only been ratified in Mexico.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has pushed for more ease of free trade among the three nations for years, about $1.7 billion worth of goods and services flow between the U.S. and Mexico borders every day. That’s about 2 percent of the GDP in America, where, according to the United Nations’ International Trade Center, Mexico and Canada are the two largest trading partners for U.S. manufacturers and shippers after China.
Despite these uncertain times, there are North American cross-border traders that continue to thrive. Consider the collection that follows.
One of the nation’s leading freight transportation and supply chain management providers, Averitt is celebrating 50 years of service. The company cites customized, cross-border transportation solutions among its many, many specialties. Five years ago, Averitt slashed less-than-truckload (LTL) service times from the U.S. Midwest to Ontario, Canada, in recognition of the province’s rise as a manufacturing hub. Averitt’s strategically placed border service centers in Laredo, El Paso, Harlingen and Del Rio provide easy access to all points throughout Mexico, by rail, truck or expedited air.
One of North America’s leading freight transportation companies, BNSF boasts a.32,500 route-mile network covering 28 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. The railway utilizes multiple strategies to make international shipments easier for customers. These include market experience, customs clearance know-how and participation in special North American rail service alliances. The BNSF network also includes five U.S.-Mexico gateways (San Diego, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo and Brownsville) and operations in Fort Worth, Texas, and Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, Mexico. Service options include carload, transload and intermodal (Mexi-Modal) that allow for shipments of all major commodities into and out of Mexico.
Picture in your head a railroad line extending from the American South to southern Mexico. You can imagine the track snaking along the contour of the Gulf of Mexico, extending west from Alabama through Mississippi and Louisiana before reaching Texas and turning due south through the border and beyond. What you did not picture was a shift from rail at Alabama’s Port of Mobile to an ocean ferry making a direct route over water to Puerto Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz, Mexico. That’s what CG Railway (CGR) has been doing since 2000: providing a faster, more cost-effective route between the eastern U.S. and Canada to central and southern Mexico. CGR offers C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) certification, bilingual customer support, proactive port security, reduced mileage and wear and tear on equipment and direct interchanges with the CSX, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National and Kansas City Southern railroads, the Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway and Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks and their Mexican counterparts.
CN NORTH AMERICA
Canadian National is based in Montreal, Quebec, and the Class I freight railway’s network is the largest in that country by physical size and revenue. Established in 1919 and formerly government-owned, Canada’s only transcontinental railway spans from the Atlantic coast in Nova Scotia to the Pacific coast in British Columbia, across about 20,400 route miles of track. But you’d be mistaken to think CN, as it has more commonly known since 1960, is strictly a Great White North concern. The railway also serves the U.S. South and Midwest and, having gone private in 1995, it now counts as its single largest shareholder Bill Gates. Through the ’90s and 2000s, CN North America has acquired multiple lines passing through several U.S. states.
The private, Jacksonville, Florida-based corporation is the largest operator of tugboats and barges in the world. Crowley American Transport provides ocean liner cargo services between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Its American Marine Transport unit delivers local, over-the-road, and commercial trucking services in the continental U.S. Crowley Marine Services provides worldwide contract and specialized marine transportation services, including petroleum product transportation and sales, tanker escort and ship assist, contract barge transportation and ocean towing, logistics and support services, marine salvage and emergency response services, spill-response services on the West Coast and all-terrain transportation services.
The subsidiary of CSX Corp., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, CSX Transportation is a Class I freight railroad operating in the eastern United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The railroad operates around 21,000 route miles of track. While its lines blanket the east coasts of Canada and the U.S., you don’t have to be located on railroad track for CSX to help you, as it has access to 70 ports and nationwide transloading and warehousing services.
The global logistics and supply chain management giant has 93 branches in every U.S. state, Mexico and Canada. Schenker of Canada Ltd. provides logistics services, airfreight, custom brokerage, custom consulting, sports events, land transport and courier services. DB Schenker Mexico celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017, having begun down there with a single location and 40 associates and now boasting of 500 employees in its corporate office in Mexico City as well as in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Queretaro, Puebla, Cancun, Ciudad Juarez and various other branches. DB Schenker Mexico offers air freight, ocean freight, land freight, customs brokerage, over-dimensioned projects, warehousing and contract logistics.
KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN
The KCS North American rail holdings and strategic alliances are primary components of a NAFTA railway system linking the commercial and industrial centers of the U.S., Mexico and Canada. “KCS is just one interchange away from every major market in North America,” boasts the railroad. KC Southern de Mexico offers unique rail access to the Port of Lazaro Cardenas on Mexico’s Pacific coast, which is an ideal spot to avoid congestion in U.S. West Coast ports. KCS also has access to Gulf of Mexico ports, including Altamira, Tampico and Veracruz in Mexico and Brownsville, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, Houston, Gulfport, Lake Charles, Mobile and Port Arthur in the U.S.
Billed as North America’s No. 1 company focused on customs brokerage and compliance, Livingston International also offers international trade consulting and freight forwarding across the continent and around the globe. Headquartered in Chicago, Livingston operates along the U.S.-Canada border, with regional air/sea hubs in Los Angeles, New York and Norfolk. Livingston employs more than 3,200 employees at more than 125 key border points, seaports, airports and other strategic locations in North America, Europe and the Far East. Livingston is a customs brokerage leader in Canada, and the company also promises to move goods seamlessly into Mexico.
Whether it is working as a 3PL or 4PL partner, the Erie, Pennsylvania-based company specializes in total logistics management, LTL and truckload transportation, rail and intermodal services, project cargo and project management, import/export services, air and ocean freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution, global trade compliance services and logistics and technology solutions. Logistics Plus serves small and large businesses throughout the Greater Toronto Area, with an office in the zone that has access to the Port of Toronto and expertise in shipping in and out of Canada though the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Bilingual logistics experts help customers with intra-Mexico, cross-border, or international shipping using air, ocean, ground or rail transportation.
Seattle-based Lynden not only delivers to, from and within Canada, the company does business there. Its long-established Canadian presence allows it to provide complete coverage for any transportation need. They can help with warehousing and distribution or 3PL in Canada, where Lynden boasts of knowing “the ins and outs of customs brokerage, duties and taxes, imports and exports.” From its offices in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Lynden offers scheduled less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) service to points in Alaska and the Lower 48.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company optimizes customers’ supply chains coast-to-coast in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. LynnCo manages businesses and determines how and when ground, international air/ocean, spot/capacity, procurement and expedited services are the best options. For instance, LynnCo helped a U.S. manufacturer determine if shifting units to Mexico was profitable. The answer was no after factoring in the risks of moving, poor facilities, added shipping costs and product quality.
POLARIS TRANSPORTATION GROUP
Billing itself as “an American company headquartered in Toronto,” Polaris has a quarter century of experience in scheduled LTL service between the U.S. and Canada. The company knows both countries’ customs rules and participates in every border security program, including C-TPAT, PIP (Partners in Protection), CSA (Customs Self- Assessment) and FAST (Free and Secure Trade). The company’s scheduled service connects Ontario and Quebec markets with the U.S. through a combination of its fleet and facilities along with those of its long-established partner carriers.
The U.S. subsidiary of Canada’s leading provider of integrated freight and parcel delivery services, Jericho, New York-based Purolator International seamlessly transports shipments between the U.S. and Canada and manages the respective countries’ customs processes with aplomb. They pick up/drop off at every point in the U.S. and boast of a distribution network that extends to every Canadian province and territory. What truly takes Purolator International over the top is a commitment to continue improving, as evidenced by a recent $1 billion growth investment that includes two new hubs that will allow for faster fulfillment for both courier and e-commerce shipments from the U.S. throughout Canada, where consumers also will be seeing more access points, including upgraded retail pickup locations.
“Shipping to Mexico is facil,” according to Ocala, Florida-based R+L Global Logistics. Its qualified network of premium carriers in Mexico provide secure door-to-door Less than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) services. They cover the entire Mexican territory and move cargo across all major U.S./Mexico border gateways. They also move intra-Mexico shipments.
The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based giant specializes in regional trucking, long-haul, bulk, intermodal, supply chain management, brokerage, warehousing, port logistics and transloading. Decades of cross-border freight experience means customer cargo moves without question or delay. Once goods move across the border, Schneider has the assets and personnel in place to deliver it safely and securely. “Here’s the simple fact: No one makes shipping to Canada and Mexico easier or more efficient than Schneider,” the company boasts. “By road or by rail, your freight is in the best hands possible.”
The Japanese logistics giant has offices in the U.S., where their own trucks and warehouses work with a network of vendors. The 3PL/4PL supply chain solutions provider uses its own IT technology developed in Japan to help arrange liquid tank transportation, flatbed, drayage, refrigerated, dry, expedited shipping and freight broker services. Senko Logistics Mexico is the company unit south of the border.
The St. Louis-based company has offices and agents across the country, and customers whose shipments are moved around the globe. Sunset arranges freight for a wide range of industries, from wholesale food distribution to specialized construction equipment. “Cross-border solutions” include customs clearance for land, rail, air and ocean, LTL, TL, intermodal, rail, air, expedited and specialized freight, contracted lane and spot market, C-TPAT compliance, multimodal programs, a Laredo, Texas, warehouse and distribution facility and 24/7 bilingual, bicultural support.
Headquartered in North Canton, Ohio, Surgere is a leader in linking OEMs, tier suppliers and logistics providers through an automotive data system that provides visibility on returnable containers at every stage of their movement between supplier and vehicle maker. The supply chain innovators, whose clients include Nissan and CEVA Logistics, recently opened Technologias Avanzadas Surgere de Mexico in Aguascalientes, Mexico, which has more than 1,300 suppliers and automotive plants within 200 kilometers of the location. “Central Mexico is the automotive hub for Latin America—making it a natural progression—and a welcomed challenge for us,” explained David Hampton, Surgere’s vice president for International Operations, in announcing the move. Surgere hopes to have the Mexico office fully staffed before the end of this year.
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Total Quality Logistics (TQL) was founded in 1997 and is now the second-largest freight brokerage firm in the nation, with more than 5,500 employees in 57 offices across the county. Known for combining industry-leading technology and unmatched customer service, TQL boasts of providing competitive pricing, continuous communication and “a commitment to do it right every time.” They move more than 1.6 million loads across the U.S., Canada and Mexico annually through a broad portfolio of logistics services and a network of more than 75,000 carriers.
The Van Buren, Arkansas-based company provides customized truckload, dedicated contract carriage, intermodal and third-party logistics freight management services throughout North America. USA Truck has nearly two decades of experience servicing Mexico, which has allowed the company to expand its presence south of the border and partner with many Mexican carriers. USA Truck’s Capacity Solutions coordinates transportation into and out of Mexico with a vast carrier network, and they service most major Mexican markets and consistently maintain C-TPAT certification. USA Truck also has a select fleet of third-party carriers providing service into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, Canada.
Launched in 1997 by four founders with more than 100 years of combined asset-based trucking experience, UTXL started with this goal: to be the safest, most reliable and cost effective niche capacity resource to customers in support of their core carrier programs. UTXL has served thousands of shippers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, including some of the largest shippers in the world. One of their mottos is: “Any point in the U.S., Canada or Mexico … any length of haul.”
“We keep America moving” is the motto of this Omaha, Nebraska-based company that has one of the largest transportation services to and from Mexico and is a premiere long-haul carrier to and from Canada and throughout North America. Werner has offices in Mexico and Canada as well as experienced and knowledgeable staff engineer solutions. PAR documentation allows for quicker access through customs into Canada, and their network of alliance carriers can manage entire supply chains within Canada and Mexico regardless of equipment needs.
The unit of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics participates in Mexico’s automotive industry not only as a carrier and logistics provider. WW Solutions specializes in processing solutions at ports and at OEM plants, providing services that include pre-delivery inspections, accessory fittings, repairs, storage, washing, vehicle preparation, quality control, inventory management and the procurement of technical services.
Yellow Transportation (founded in 1924 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) merged with Roadway (founded in 1930 in Akron, Ohio) to create YRC Freight, which is the largest subsidiary of YRC Worldwide Inc. based in Overland Park, Kansas. A leading transporter of industrial, commercial and retail goods, YRC Freight offers solutions for businesses across North America and is the only carrier with on-site, bilingual representatives at border crossing points in Mexico to expedite customs clearance.