OTTAWA, Ont. Yesterday’s announcement by Paul Martin and George Bush on their plan to deal jointly with border and economy issues was encouraging, say CTA officials.
The new framework, dubbed "Common Security/Common Prosperity" will, according to a joint statement by Martin and Bush "reinforc(e) our joint efforts pursuant to our Smart Borders Accord "
Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley said "we hope this will breathe new life into the pursuit of efficient borders while improving security and growing the Canada-US trade relationship."
CTA has been concerned of late over a spate of new U.S. security measures (e.g. the US-VISIT program requiring landed immigrants to be fingerprinted and photographed when entering or leaving the U.S.) that could scuttle some of the progress made under the initial Smart Border Accord 2001 and over the priority Canada has been placing on border issues and investments.
"We have been suggesting that perhaps we need a Smart Border Accord II to try and get the focus back on the need to improve border security without impairing trade," said Bradley. "(Yesterday’s) announcement seems directionally consistent with that."
In their joint statement the two leaders agreed to take "further steps to secure the Canada-U.S. border while improving the flow of legitimate traffic through investments in border infrastructure and a land pre-clearance initiative."
Moreover, during their press conference, President Bush made direct reference to the need for a solution to problems plaguing the Windsor-Detroit crossing, something the Bradley said he hopes means the two year impasse on introducing short-term improvements in Windsor will soon be at an end.
The priority placed on land transport pre-clearance is significant and should help facilitate a pilot of full land pre-clearance at the Peace Bridge, which is presently in the stakeholder consultation phase, said Bradley. "The President is sending a clear signal that he supports working with Canada to make land pre-clearance a reality."
The joint statement also committed the two countries to working together on smarter regulations to improve efficiency and competitiveness; to achieving clean air and water; and to advancing democratic values and human freedoms abroad.
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