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Canada, U.S. border deal eases trade; Canadian industry welcomes agreement


Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hailing a new set of border agreements between Canada and the United States as a merger between security concerns and the need for commerce and travel.

The wide-ranging plan pledged to expedite the movement of goods. There will be screening of cargo from foreign countries to Canada and the U.S., so that it is screened just once for both nations, the document stated.

Some companies in either Canada or the U.S. that ship goods across the border will be given “trusted status” so that the shipment is pre-screened at the factory instead of the border.

Several Canadian manufacturing and trade organizations — including the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, Food & Consumer Products of Canada, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce — welcomed the agreements. See detailed comments from these groups below.

Harper says the deals on perimeter security and regulatory harmonization represent the most significant steps forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In the text of a speech delivered after a meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington, Harper says the agreements create a “new, modern border for a new century.”

The prime minister says Canada shares U.S. security concerns, but he adds measures to deal with criminal and terrorist threats can thicken the border and hinder efforts to create jobs and growth.

He calls the border deals “practical steps to reverse that direction.”

Both countries agree the best way to deal with trouble is with smarter systems at the continental perimeter, minimizing multiple inspections of freight and baggage.

“We also believe that, just as threats should be stopped at the perimeter, trusted travellers should cross the border more quickly,” Harper said.

“Indeed, these priorities are complementary: The key that locks the door against terrorists also opens a wider gate to cross-border trade and travel.”

The second joint initiative will reduce regulatory barriers to trade by streamlining and aligning standards “where it makes sense to do so.”

“Naturally, in this area, as in all others, no loss of sovereignty is contemplated by either of our governments,” Harper said.

“Every rule needs a reason,” he added, and “where no adequate reason exists for a rule or standard, and that standard hinders us from doing business on both sides of the border, that rule needs to be re-examined.”

IT COMES AS WELCOME NEWS:

Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association: “We are very pleased,” said Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, which represents such car companies as Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. “The direction is what the industry has asked for.”

"We have invested heavily as trusted traders," he said. "We want to make sure we get the full benefit of these programs and the fact that these programs are going to be more in line with the United States is exactly what we’ve been looking for. Execution in terms of these action plans is what we have to work on quickly."

The governments’ pledge to harmonize standards for such goods as automobiles also pleased Nantais. "Over time there have been differences that add additional cost to industry for no real public benefit and only complicate matters in terms of compliance," he said. "Part of the exercise moving forward is to deal with existing regulatory differences and work toward a process for dealing with future regulatory development on a truly binational basis.(source)

Food & Consumer Products of Canada: “The plan released by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama is an exciting, and much needed step forward that will save taxpayers money and benefit Canadians with innovative products that are made in Canada. It will also help boost the economy, enable Canadian companies to better compete on the global stage, while maintaining Canadian sovereignty and the world-class safety and quality of the products Canadians trust.” (www.fcpc.ca)

The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada:
“Canada’s chemistry industry sends 76 percent of its exports — more than $20 billion worth of products — to the U.S. every year,” says Richard Paton, CIAC’s President and CEO.  “The measures outlined in the Border Action Plans are critical to keeping our industry competitive, and to strengthening Canada’s manufacturing sector.” (www.ccpa.ca)

Canadian Chamber of Commerce: “Sometimes governments get it right, and that’s the case today,” said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “Today’s announcement is a major victory for businesses and citizens on both sides of the border.” (www.chamber.ca)