Today, the Canadian and American governments released the second annual report to leaders on the progress of the Beyond the Border initiative. Since the launch of the initial action plans on February 4, 2011, businesses have be following efforts to improve the flow of legitimate goods and people across the Canada-U.S. border.
While progress in many areas has been disappointingly slow, some improvements have been made. For example, the benefits of the NEXUS program have been expanded, resulting in a 50% uptake in program participation. The cargo screening initiative has reduced dwell times from two hours to 20 minutes, joint border infrastructure plans have been released and the thresholds for low-value shipments have been harmonized. On the regulatory side, progress has been made in the transportation of dangerous goods, motor vehicle safety standards and energy efficiency.
While such progress should be lauded, businesses continue to push for progress in areas that would bring greater commercial benefit. For example, negotiations on pre-clearance are moving at a snail’s pace, improvements to trusted trader programs are below industry expectations, the movement to single window remains fraught with challenges and a new crossing between Windsor and Detroit remains conspicuously absent from any discussions on border infrastructure planning.
Despite these challenges, it is important that industry continue to push both of our governments to make the Canada-U.S. border more trade efficient. We will continue to work with our government partners on these important issues and urges businesses on both sides of the border to continue to press for a more efficient border.