TORONTO, Ont. – The Canadian Truck Alliance (CTA) says not much new came out of talks between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Barack Obama following their meeting in Washington today (March 10).
Trudeau and Obama addressed the need to continue to build on and accelerate bilateral agreements to facilitate free trade, enhance security of the border and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Any time you get the leaders of the two countries agreeing, even directionally, to cooperate on things like border efficiency and facilitation of low-risk traders, that is a good thing,” said CTA president David Bradley. “Whether it amounts to anything remains to be seen. As always, the devil will be in the details.”
Trudeau and Obama made a joint statement reaffirming each country’s commitment to reduce GHG emissions, with the prime minister saying Canada would align itself with the US on the second phase of standards, something the CTA said it does not entirely agree with.
“The Canadian truck fleet is not the same as the US truck fleet,” said Bradley. “In fact, the Canadian fleet is more productive, 22% more fuel efficient and produces 22% less GHG than the US fleet. Canada cannot simply superimpose US rules and US solutions on our fleet. A made-in-Canada approach, using technologies that can function properly in Canadian conditions is required.”
As an example of what the CTA said amounted to ‘little new’, the association pointed to the leaders’ proposal to bolster their respective country’s intentions to bring into force the Canada-US Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance. But the CTA said with regards to freight, all Trudeau and Obama would say was that they would ‘explore the conditions necessary for cargo preclearance and identify opportunities to pilot this approach.’
“The CTA is hopeful that one day we will see true binational preclearance of commercial trucks before they reach the border,” said Bradley, “perhaps from a factory or distribution centre, so they won’t have to stop at an inspection booths at the border, but we’re far from that today.”
The CTA said US Customs and Border Protection’s desire to retain full legal powers on Canadian soil has been an ongoing barrier to ‘true preclearance.’
The implementation of a system to exchange basic biographic entry information at land borders was another announcement the CTA said was ‘agreed to some time ago.’
Trudeau and Obama also announced the creation of a joint Canada-US group to advance regulatory cooperation between the two countries, something the CTA said it presumes will include senior officials from Transport Canada and the US Department of Transportation.