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CTA applauds feds stance on added fees

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is pleased the Government of Canada has taken a firm stance ag...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is pleased the Government of Canada has taken a firm stance against new American rules to imposing added fees for heading south.

The federal government made a formal request to the US Department of Agriculture to withdraw a rule that is slated to come into force on Nov. 24 that would impose new fees and inspections on passengers and goods crossing the border from Canada into the US.

Approximately $75 million in new fee revenue would be raised to hire more than 130 new agriculture inspectors at the land border to check for off-shore fruits, vegetables and cut flowers that are being fraudulently labeled as produce of Canada and then being shipped to the US.

The fees would apply to all trucks entering the US, whether they are hauling agricultural products or other goods like auto parts.

When details of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) interim rule became known last month, CTA urged the federal government to take a strong stance in opposition to the APHIS plan, which it says will double the cost of fees for all trucks crossing into the US from Canada, and risk causing further tie-ups at the border.

In a letter the Canadian Embassy in Washington sent to APHIS, Canadian officials say the USDA’s approach “would be a step backwards” and would likely “increase rather than reduce biosecurity risks.” It says that the relevance the US attaches to pre-clearance interception data “is exaggerated” and workable alternative measures “have been ignored.”

David Bradley, CEO of the CTA was pleased by the embassy letter.

“It is strongly worded, but appropriately so,” he says. “The suggestion that bilateral discussions take place to identify legitimate issues over cross-border trade in these products and to address them in ways that do not disrupt trade seems like an entirely more sensible approach than to further thicken the border.”

“CTA is not questioning the importance of agricultural inspections by any means. But what the Government of Canada has done, in response to comments received from CTA and many other parties, is point out that the APHIS plan is fraught with problems and is not likely to provide the US with the additional protections it seeks,” he said. “This rule was published without consultation with those most affected. Not only is it patently unfair to charge service providers, such as trucking companies, with fees to inspect someone else’s goods, as the Canadian government’s submission so clearly explains. This approach will also not get at the source of the perceived problem, and flies in the face of everything that has been done in the past five years to target risk at the border. “

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