The Importance of Michigan Shipping to International Trade

Photo by Mike Russell

Last time we discussed the importance of Michigan’s lumber to manufacturing, jobs, and Michigan’s economy. We touched a little on shipping and how the lumber that is made into pallets affects international trade. This time we will talk about how crucial shipping, facilitated by those same pallets, is to Michigan and the United States.

The Canadian/U.S. border is the longest international border in the world, over 5,500 miles long. Of those 5,525 miles, 721 of them are in Michigan. The busiest border crossing in North America, in terms of trade volume, is in Detroit, Michigan. More than a quarter of all merchandise trade between the U.S. and Canada travels across the Ambassador Bridge. Michigan has a number of other active border crossings. including other bridges, tunnels, and ferries in Detroit, Port Huron, Sault Ste. Marie, Marine City, and Algonac, but the most active for shipping are in Detroit and Port Huron.

In comparison, Alaska has over 1,500 miles of border, but no corresponding urban/industrial area like Windsor, Ontario. The Great Lakes, combined with Detroit’s importance as a manufacturing hub, make Michigan important for shipping and vital for U.S./Canada trade. How important? Well, consider this:

  • The United States and Canada are each other’s largest trading partner, and their combined trade supports over 7 million jobs, the vast majority of which are U.S. jobs.
  • Two-thirds of the merchandise is shipped by truck, over a billions dollars’ worth every day.
  • Much of this merchandise is in the following: vehicle parts and accessories, machinery and mechanical appliances and parts, minerals, oils, and fuels, and plastics.
  • In 2013 2.18 million trucks crossed the Ambassador Bridge carrying cargo to either the U.S. or Canada.
  • Nearly 700,000 trucks crossed the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan, in 2012.

Now consider that each of those nearly 3 million trucks that crossed over the border from Michigan to Canada, or vice versa, on either the Ambassador or the Blue Water bridges was carrying trade goods that were most likely shipped on pallets. They were carrying pallets because the pallet, as simply constructed as it is, is an excellent way to ensure that goods ship in an organized fashion, using as little space as possible and with as little damage as possible in transit. In fact, the trucks that carry those pallets are designed to accommodate them. All of modern shipping is. Pallets move our world.

We at Kamps are proud that the pallet product we manufacture and supply acts as the oil in the engine of Michigan shipping and U.S./Canada international trade. We didn’t directly create the 7 million manufacturing jobs, or the corresponding shipping and logistics jobs that help Americans and Canadians support their families, but without those simple pallets, the whole process would be much more difficult and time consuming. This is another reason to be thankful for pallets.

Fuad Hasanovic

Fuad is the Brand Management Specialist at Kamps. He is experienced in Thought Leadership Marketing and Blogging, and holds an MBA from Davenport University.


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