CEG Industry Blog

North Americans Could Solve their Construction Problems

Heavy contractors and makers of construction machinery would love to see more cooperation among Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

📅   Mon November 16, 2015 - Edition
Giles Lambertson


The North Americas are on the move, though not exactly in the same direction and certainly not in any coordinated way.
The North Americas are on the move, though not exactly in the same direction and certainly not in any coordinated way.

The North Americas are on the move, though not exactly in the same direction and certainly not in any coordinated way. Heavy contractors and makers of construction machinery would love to see more cooperation among Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

Canada just changed its government because of a slumping economy and the new leader has promised to inject billions of borrowed dollars into construction of highways and bridges. The new government hopes the big deficit-spending stimulus plan will jumpstart the economy. This has been tried elsewhere, of course. No lessons learned.

U.S. construction machinery manufacturers hope it succeeds, naturally. Canada is the largest importer of American construction equipment, with some $3.1 billion in products sent northward in the first half of 2015. But that is 12 percent less than a year ago, part of a global market tumble for the machines. The second biggest market in the first half of the year was Mexico ($602 million) but that is down 22 percent from a year ago.

Canada’s new leader also says he will continue to back construction of the Keystone pipeline, a conduit for Canadian oil derived from its tar sands. The Conservative government also was a proponent of the pipeline. Unfortunately, resistance to the pipeline—and the construction jobs derived from it—continues in, of all places, Washington.

Mexico remains an enigma. NAFTA opened up its gates for trade 21 years ago, but drug cartels have destabilized large sectors of the country—did you see where gangs derailed a train so they could steal 70 tons of bagged cement?—and the scuttled economy keeps sending workers across the border into the U.S. If an immigration system existed to control borders and employ legal immigrants, the U.S. construction industry manpower problem might be solved. But, of course, immigration reform isn’t happening either.

So lawmakers in Washington, Ottawa, and Mexico City look across their respective borders and mutter, “I wish they could get their act together!” Don’t we all.