TORONTO, Ont. — In a speech to a joint conference of the Border Trade Alliance and the Canadian Association of Importers & Exporters, David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance has called on the trade community to get behind new programs designed to speed up border clearance.
Bradley told delegates meeting in Windsor, which is home to the worlds’ largest trade gateway, “the single most important program to come out of the Manley-Ridge Smart Border Declaration is the Free & Secure Trade (FAST) program. The message from the customs agencies on both sides of the border is clear become a member of FAST, or sit.”
The FAST program is a bilateral Canada-US system of electronic pre-clearance of low risk goods, shipped by low risk and pre-approved importers, exporters, carriers, drivers and goods.
“The number of US and Canadian carriers that have registered for the FAST program is growing,” he said, “but even if you are a FAST carrier, if your load is being delivered on the part of a non-FAST shipper, you’ll sit.” He cited figures showing that at the present time about 2000 US, and 90 Canadian importers, had applied for FAST approval, with 540 and 2 approved, respectively. About 270 carriers have been conditionally approved by the US Customs & Border Protection Agency. The Canada Customs & Revenue Agency has qualified around 100 of the 227 carriers presently in the pipeline.
He said the costs of border delays “cannot and should not be borne by a carrier that has joined FAST and has made the necessary investments in security under the US Customs Trade Protection Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) or the Canadian Partner in Protection (PIP) programs. We are beginning to see carriers charging shippers for these delays either through security surcharges, as ancillary costs, or through differential rates for FAST-Non-FAST customers.”
Bradley also stated “in addition to programs like FAST, ‘fixing the border’ also requires investment in infrastructure like bridges, tunnels and their approaches.” He applauded recent federal-provincial strategic border infrastructure investments but said there is more to be done. And, he said, “it also requires good relations between the world’s two largest trading partners Canada and the United States.”
“Canada’s number one economic priority must be to remove uncertainties at the border, or risk an outflow of direct investment,” he said. “The security and predictability of the supply chain is essential in a Just-In-Time setting like that which dominates in the North American manufacturing sector.”
Bradley also encouraged both the Canadian and US governments to use the FAST program as the platform for other security measures currently under development such as a proposed Transportation Worker Identity Card. “It just makes sense,” said Bradley.
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