Canadian Truckers Say Canada-US Border Agreement
Leaders’ announcement is historic, helps
create 21st century border
OTTAWA -- The Canadian Trucking Alliance is hailing today's Canada-US
border agreement announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US
President Barack Obama as a historic achievement that takes meaningful
steps to bringing the Canada-US border into the 21st century. Trucks are
the major mode of transborder freight transport between the
world’s largest bilateral trading partners.
"This is a great day for the trucking industry and the trade
community in both countries," says David Bradley, president of the
4,500-member company trucking alliance. "The leaders and the governments
of both great nations are to be commended. The action plans effectively
balance security and trade imperatives while restoring a meaningful
return on investment in the trusted trader programs and creating the
opportunity for a more efficient and productive border."
Over the past several months, CTA consulted extensively with both
agencies responsible for drafting the Action Plan -- the Beyond the
Border Working Group and the Canada–US Regulatory Cooperation
Council – proposing a number of doable measures the Alliance felt
would improve trade facilitation and reduce unnecessary regulatory
"The announcement today delivers in several tangible ways," says
Bradley, "and creates a pathway to further cooperation.
"Of all the announcements made today, perhaps the greatest bang for
our buck in the Action Plan is the harmonization between Canada and the
U.S. on the data requirements for in transit goods movement which
temporarily travel through one of the two countries."
Canada's rules allow the movement of goods in-transit by a US
carrier. But after post-Sept. 11 security rules were implemented, the
U.S. essentially killed Canadian carriers' ability to transport domestic
loads through the U.S. by requiring full customs documentation.
Restoring carriers' ability to move in-transit means more efficient
trade, lower costs and faster truck transit times for Canadian carriers
moving domestic goods through the U.S.
To restore competitive balance, the U.S. government has effectively
agreed to harmonize its current rules with Canada. The alternative would
have been for Canada to mirror the U.S. policy, putting an end to the
practice and effectively eliminating the efficiencies altogether.
"We're happy to see it didn't come to that," says Bradley. "CTA has been
seeking U.S. harmonization with Canadian rules for years, and now the
Perimeter Action Plan has delivered."
Among the many positive measures for the trucking industry contained
in today's announcement is as follows:
• Mutual Recognition of Trusted Trader
Programs -- The Alliance also applauds the Perimeter Action
Plan's mutual recognition of the two main "trusted trader" risk
assessment programs -- the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against
Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the Canada Border Services Agency's Partners In
Protection (PIP). CTA had been urging greater flexibility in how each
program determines carrier and shipper access to FAST lanes into Canada.
Currently, companies must apply to both programs separately, despite the
fact that the information required is identical.
"Given the high level of harmonization between the two programs
already, it made sense to move toward a more streamlined process
including a single application via automated enrollment system,
expanding benefits so more products are eligible for FAST lane access
for trusted shippers," says Bradley. "Also, the move towards full
harmonization enables carriers in either program to take advantage of
the benefits of the other."
• FAST Cards -- Governments will examine
ways to allow FAST cards to meet requirements of other security
programs, involving CBSA, CBP and other government agencies.
• Pre-Inspection -- Another intriguing
border provision could reduce the number of customs inspections for
truck freight moving across the Canada-U.S. border. A pilot slated for
launch at the Port of Montreal will introduce an 'inspect once, accept
twice' concept, where freight arriving at the North American border will
only be inspected by one Customs agency but will be accepted by both
• Pre-Clearance -- USCBP will implement a
pre-clearance pilot at a land border by Sept. 2012, quite possibly the
Peace Bridge, where infrastructure limitations contribute to traffic
congestion. Facilities at the Peace Bridge would allow trucks to be
pre-cleared on the Canadian side of the border by CBP prior to entering
the U.S. CTA has historically cautioned against any initiative that
would see trucks stopping twice where currently there is only one stop,
however the Alliance looks forward to working with governments and local
port officials on this initiative to ensure optimum efficiencies are
• Border Crossing Fees -- Governments
have committed to conduct an inventory and assessment that examines the
rationale and impact for the multitude of border crossing fees,
including such irritants as the APHIS fees.
• RFID -- Border infrastructure means
more than just building roads and bridges. CTA is pleased that funding
has been identified for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and
anticipates that under the review of trusted trader facilities it could
lead to expansion of FAST lanes and RFID technology for commercial
• Wood Packaging Material -- The action
plan commits to finding ways to ensure that inspection of pallets and
other packaging materials is done away from the border and does not
disrupt border operations.
One of CTA's proposed regulatory measures was the modernization of
the rules governing the repositioning of foreign empty trailers.
While this was not part of the action plan announced today, Bradley says
he is encouraged that the issue remains on the table.
"The commitment to performance measurements and reporting publicly on
progress on the Action Plan is a clear indication that this is the
beginning of a process of improvements, not the end," says Bradley. "We
will continue to work closely with the officials leading Canada's team
on these outstanding initiatives."
"In the meantime, we are pleased to have been actively engaged
throughout the process and appreciate that the decision-makers on both
sides of the border listened to our concerns and suggestions."