EDMONTON, Alta.--The Roads, Rails and Runways conference, hosted by Edmonton and International Airport and the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA), launched today in Edmonton at the Radisson South, complete with seminar sessions, airport tours and a flyover of the oil sands near Fort McMurray for interested participants.
In her opening address, Ruth Snowden, Executive Director of CIFFA, noted that the association’s mission statement is to represent and support members based on three founding pillars of advocacy, membership and education.
“When we look back at the years since we were founded in 1948 who knew we would now be lobbying government on behalf of freight forwarders?” commented Snowden.
Since then, she said, the association has standardized training conditions which level the playing field for freight forwarders and it has an established code of ethics.
“And we take our networking pretty seriously too,” commented Snowden on the association’s presence in Edmonton, partnering with Edmonton International Airport and celebrating 65 years as an association.
Norm Richard director of air service development at Edmonton International Airport, said that Northern Alberta and Canada's north are driving growth and opportunity.
“We enjoy the third largest known oil reserves in the world in the world’s most stable environment politically,” he said.
Over one half of these reserves are available for development privately.
With demand for goods coming out of the province, Richard said there is a need for a strong and secure global supply chain. The airport has enjoyed 3 1/2 years of consistent cargo growth and is among the top 15 growth airports in cargo volumes among some 70 airports in North America, noted Richard.
“We take cargo seriously and it is a significant part of our business as a gateway to the north,” said Reg Milley, president and CEO at Edmonton Airports.
“We’re perfectly positioned to consolidate back haul shipments inbound from Asia. Our recent expansion includes a new cargo apron and multimodal air cargo centre, with plans for the expansion of a logistics park
The cargo message is clear: we'll move you,” said Milley in his address.
The Hon. Minister Kevin Sorensen, State for Finance, for the Government of Canada, spoke about changing trade patterns and resulting needs for infrastructure.
“Canada has been investing in its own infrastructure, strengthening the routes through which modern trade travels. In many international meetings I’ve attended, capacity and infrastructure is high on the agenda,” he said, noting that Canada has responded with P3 opportunities, gateway projects and the New Building Canada plan under which the government will provide major support for highways, roads, and bridges.
He also commented that the Transpacific Partnership Agreement Canada is working towards has the potential to bring significant changes, addressing both tariff and non tariff barriers to trade and investment.
“Freight forwarders have a solid ally in the government of Canada but we’re looking to them and to the rest of the transportation industry to help carry the ball over the line,” said Sorenson.
International and Intergovernmental Relations Minister for the province of Alberta, Cal Dallas, said his province’s ‘Building Alberta’ plan aims to open new markets.
“The government of Alberta’s new international strategy aims to ensure the province is prepared for the challenges of a rapidly changing globalized economy. The mission of my ministry is to advance Alberta’s interest by advancing economic and cultural relations to the 173 countries to which Alberta exports,” he said.
The province aims to attract more investment through diversified markets, and more export opportunities, and aims to have an on the ground presence in several key regions, including China, Singapore and Brazil.