Canadian Trucking Alliance: Canada-U.S. border agreement win-win

The Canadian Trucking Alliance is lauding a U.S.-Canada border agreement announced Dec. 7 by President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as an “historic achievement that takes meaningful steps to bring the Canada-U.S. border into the 21st century,” adding that trucks are the “major mode of trans-border freight transport between the world’s largest bilateral trading partners.”

David Bradley, president of the 4,500-member company trucking alliance, said it was a great day for both countries. “The leaders and the governments of both great nations are to be commended,” he said. “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 barriers.
The agreement “delivers in several tangible ways,” says Bradley, “and creates a pathway to further cooperation.

He continued that “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 U.S. 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., the Alliance said in a news release.

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, they said.

“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.”

Measures for the trucking industry contained in the Act include the following:

* Mutual Recognition of Trusted Trader Programs
* FAST Cards
* Pre-Clearance
*Border Crossing Fees
*RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
*Wood Packaging Material