On June 28, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge released a "progress report" on the Smart Border Declaration.Of particular interest to the trucking...
On June 28, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge released a “progress report” on the Smart Border Declaration.
Of particular interest to the trucking industry was the announcement of, “significant progress on a new joint program, Free And Secure Trade (FAST), to securely and efficiently move commercial shipments across our shared border.”
CTA has been working with Canadian and U.S. Customs to come up with recommendations to improve the flow of trade at our borders while increasing security in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The announcement of the FAST program – expected to be phased in later this year – is consistent with many of CTA’s recommendations. However, there are some areas of concern, which I will be working with both countries’ customs services to resolve over the coming months.
On the positive side, the FAST program is designed to expedite low-risk shipments imported by pre-authorized importers if they are carried by the pre-authorized drivers of similarly certified carriers. It is based on Canada’s Customs Self-Assessment program, and both countries’ supply chain security models: the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism and Canada’s Partners in Protection Program.
Over the summer and early fall, I understand the Canadian and U.S. governments will work on the harmonization of these security and commercial programs so that the requirements and benefits will be aligned on both sides of the border.
While this is a step in the right direction, CTA remains concerned over the inability of the FAST program to accommodate LTL shipments. This will be a priority for the Alliance in its upcoming discussions with CCRA and U.S. Customs. In addition, no separate access lanes are planned at this point, but rather “dedicated primary inspection lanes” or PILS. This means that pre-approved, low risk shipments will continue to be queued up with higher risk loads while waiting for entry to the PIL.
Absent from the Manley-Ridge report were any details on a new bilaterally harmonized driver registration program. CTA understands that this program, now under development, will include a biometric component, probably based on fingerprints. While CTA has long been calling for a driver security card recognized for entry to either country, some problems remain. Foremost is that the 30,000 drivers who have already registered under the Canadian Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP) will need to go through the process again – mainly because the original program did not require fingerprints. Also, while the CDRP was free of charge, there will be a cost attached to the new program (probably $80 per driver for a two-year pass).
Since the various components of the FAST program are being developed jointly by the Canadian and U.S. governments, my group will work with our American Trucking Associations counterparts over the summer and fall to bring a consistent message to both governments.
The following is an excerpt from the June 28 Manley-Ridge announcement under the heading The Secure Flow of Goods:
“Today, we are also pleased to report on significant progress on a new joint program that will revolutionize the way commercial shipments move across our shared border. The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program establishes a public-private partnership to improve security measures throughout the entire supply chain. Companies that make the commitment to improve their supply chain security will enjoy the benefits of a “fast lane” for commercial truck traffic.
“In short, FAST will make many cross-border commercial shipments simpler, cheaper, and subject to fewer delays – all while enhancing security. FAST is designed from the framework of our existing unilateral supply chain security programs, Canada’s Customs Self Assessment and Partners in Protection (CSA/PIP) and the United States’ Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT).
“FAST provides a simpler clearance process for lower-risk shipments – those imported by pre-authorized importers and carried by pre-authorized drivers and carriers. Approved participants will use a dedicated “fast lane,” which will significantly expedite the processing of shipments. Businesses will benefit from a simpler clearance process and greater efficiency in the shipment of their goods.
“FAST also reduces the administrative burden on businesses by minimizing the amount of trade compliance verification that is done at the border. This allows front-line Customs officials to focus on higher-risk traffic.
FAST is the first step in an ongoing effort to align how our two countries process all commercial shipments – by truck, plane, train or ship. Our goal is to provide companies compatible procedures to follow when importing to either country.
These common procedures will reduce the costs and administrative burden on business, and will significantly enhance security by providing customs agencies with the information they require for proper scrutiny of incoming goods. Later this summer we expect to announce a schedule for implementation at our top shared commercial border crossings.”
– David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
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