7 December 2011
The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.
In a typical year, more than $500 billion worth of two-way trade takes place between Canada and the U.S. Canadian exports to the U.S. support one in seven jobs in our country, and U.S. exports to Canada support some eight million jobs in the U.S. Clearly, the economic impact of an efficient Canada-U.S. border is critically important for the continued competitiveness of our exporting and importing industries.
Duplicate inspections, delays at the border and paperwork all come with a hefty price tag for trading companies, their employees and the economy as a whole. The most conservative estimates suggest that inefficiencies at the Canada-U.S. border impose a direct cost on the Canadian economy of one percent of GDP, or $16 billion a year. Even a modest improvement in border efficiency will result in significant and lasting economic gains.
The Action Plan aims to make the land border as efficient as possible through:
- Conducting harmonized and mutually recognized screening of shipments arriving from offshore, at the perimeter. This means that under the Action Plan, shipments will be screened at the first point of entry, and not re-screened all over again when they cross the Canada-U.S. land border;
- Focusing land border inspections on high and unknown risk travellers and shipments, and not on known low-risk travellers and shipments. Under the Action Plan, membership in programs for trusted traders and travellers – such as NEXUS and FAST - will be expanded and their benefits increased, and;
- Making appropriate investments in physical infrastructure and technology at the border, such as expanding the number of NEXUS and FAST lanes and installing faster document readers. These investments will help ensure that the enhanced efficiencies cited above are fully realized.
What follows is a sampling of the kinds of measures to be developed in each one of these areas.
Increasing reliance on aligned and coordinated security systems for inspecting goods at the perimeter
- Develop an integrated cargo security strategy, which would include harmonized and mutually accepted approaches to inspecting inbound air and marine cargo at the first point of arrival in North America under the principle “cleared once, accepted twice.” This would reduce the number of shipments that are subject to rescreening when they are shipped across the Canada-U.S. border. By 2013, pilot projects will be launched that will assess and examine inbound marine cargo at Prince Rupert and Montreal. If successful, these year-long pilots will be made permanent and expanded to other marine ports in Canada and the U.S.
- For all modes of transportation, harmonize the data that companies are required to submit in advance, including for trans-border shipments, to ease the administrative burden on companies of these important requirements.
- Develop mutual recognition of air cargo security programs to eliminate the need for duplicate screening.
Improving risk-based management of trade and travel at the land border
- Harmonize and enhance the benefits of trusted trader and traveller programs, so that they deliver more value to members, thereby increasing membership. Canada and the U.S. will explore product-specific pilots to lower inspection rates in certain sectors, based on a history of good compliance. Canada will lead two pilot projects for the agri-food sector, including one for the processed-food industry, and the U.S. will lead a pilot for the pharmaceutical sector.
- Implement a single window for companies to submit electronically all the data required by government departments for arriving shipments.
- Streamline administrative and operational procedures for business travellers. Business travellers often run into difficulty when trying to cross the border due to red tape and complicated administrative procedures. Under the Action Plan, they will benefit from more efficient and predictable border clearances.
- Develop an overall approach to future preclearance initiatives, as well as immediately start to implement a number of agreed pre-inspection and preclearance initiatives in the rail, marine and highway modes of transportation. By September 2012, at least one commercially important point of entry will be identified where a pilot project to pre-inspect truck cargo will be launched. The pilot project will run for one year, after which time consideration will be given to expanding it to additional points of entry. In addition, Canada and the U.S. will initiate a one-year pilot project by June 2012 to provide for advance review and clearance of official certification, as well as for alternative approaches to import inspection activities for fresh meat.
- Increase and harmonize the value thresholds for expedited customs clearance and streamline current import processes for low-value shipments to minimize the burden at the border for these kinds of shipments.
- Conduct an independent assessment of the impact of all border-related fees and charges on those key industries which rely on cross-border trade.
Investing in improved shared border infrastructure and technology
- Upgrade infrastructure, such as adding additional lanes and expanding access roads, at key crossings to relieve congestion and speed up movement of traffic across the border.
- Establish wait-time service levels and deploy border wait-time technology to provide businesses with publicly available and predictable information on which to base their planning. For example, at the land border, wait-time service levels will be set and information made available in real time so that truckers carrying “just-in-time” shipments, such as lobster or sea food for U.S. restaurant markets, are better able to plan their border crossings.
- Ensure that the enhanced and expanded trusted trader and trusted traveler programs have the infrastructure required to fully realize their intended benefits to members.
- Improve the coordination of daily operations at border ports of entry and jointly plan new infrastructure at the border.
The Government of Canada remains committed to the construction of the Detroit River International Crossing. A second bridge at the busiest border crossing between our two countries is essential for job creation and economic growth in Southwestern Ontario.
Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.