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Economic losses for US, Canada caused by border blockade protesters approaching $1 billion

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Posted at 8:00 AM, Feb 15, 2022

Auto industry officials fear that the economic losses caused by anti-vaccine mandate protests that blocked traffic at one of North America's busiest border crossings could approach $1 billion.

Late Sunday night, police cleared out the last of the "Freedom Convoy" protesters that had blocked traffic entering Canada on the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. Protests had shut down traffic into Canada on the bridge for nearly a week.

The bridge is vital for both countries' economies, as millions of dollars in goods cross the bridge each day. Many of those goods are auto parts or cars manufactured in Detroit.

The rebound for the auto industry won't be like flipping a switch now that the trucks are running and the pipeline of parts is back.

"I would expect to see some normalization within the next week to two weeks. But it really is going to be a process," said Peter Nagle, a senior research analyst for automotive with HIS Markit.

How high could the losses go? Some analysts estimate that losses from the protests are already at $850 million.

"Ballpark, $140 million a day," Nagle said. "You can see how it adds up to that $850 million figure."

The delays will cause more shortages in new cars and trucks on the market that were already underway due to production shutdowns from COVID-19 in 2020 and an ongoing computer chip shortage.

"And this is just again bad news that's going to result in higher prices and tighter inventories for the next several weeks to months here on top of the ongoing semiconductor shortages," Nagle said.

Canadian truckers have been taking part in the "Freedom Convoy" protests across the country in recent weeks, snarling traffic in the capital of Ottawa and elsewhere. The protesters are demonstrating against mandates that require truckers entering Canada to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the country's Emergencies Act in an attempt to end the protests. The law temporarily suspends a person's freedom of movement or assembly in times of crisis.

This story was originally published by Jim Kiertzner on Scripps station WXYZ in Detroit.