OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is giving a thumbs up to some border initiatives recently announced by the federal government, including the automation of truck manifests.
Federal Public Safety Minister, Stockwell Day, recently announced $400 million in funding for border projects that will improve the movement of freight into the US. Included in the project is an initiative by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to help develop the Advance Commercial Information (ACI) project. An electronic truck manifest will be created that will allow carriers to submit cargo, conveyance and crew information to CBSA in advance of arriving at the US border.
Risk assessments will then be made in advance of the trucks arrival at the border, so when the truck reaches the land crossing a decision will already have been made on whether to allow the truck to proceed through or pull aside for examination.
The announcement also included a plan for closer cooperation with the US on border contingency planning and harmonization of the countries supply chain security programs.
This is a major undertaking, and one should have no illusions that it will be easy, said CTA CEO, David Bradley. However, the current processes in place for northbound truck freight are too reliant on paper and the exercise of judgment by the Customs officer as the truck sits at the booth. With the technology now at our disposal, we will be able to modernize the way data flows from carriers to government. I see no reason why this initiative cannot streamline the border crossing process and enhance national security at the same time.
Bradley was also encouraged the plan recognizes the importance of moving forward on border contingency planning.
What contingency is there if something were to happen to the Ambassador bridge? We dont have a second crossing, he pointed out.
Bradley added that while the ACI funding is welcomed, the US experience shows its not easy to balance the requirements of border agencies with a manageable and inexpensive option for carriers.
Carriers have invested heavily in the US version of electronic truck manifest, said Bradley. There is a lot to be learned from their experience, perhaps most of all the importance of working with representatives from the trade community to address problems, and providing adequate client support resources to carriers seeking to move to e-manifest. A system built on the US model, backed up with significant client support and training resources, will benefit carriers and their importer clients for years to come.
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