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Next few months critical for border: CTA

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Trade efficiency is key to competing internationally, CTA CEO David Bradley told audience membe...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Trade efficiency is key to competing internationally, CTA CEO David Bradley told audience members at a speech today in Washington.

“If North America wants to maintain its standing as the world’s economic powerhouse in the face of rapid economic growth in countries like China and India, it must ensure that the trade between the NAFTA partners is more, not less, efficient,” said Bradley during his speech at the Border Trade Alliance (BTA) Annual Conference being held in the U.S. capitol.

According to Bradley, the next few months will be critical in determining what the land borders between Canada and the United States will look like for years to come.
“The requirement to participate in the global supply chain is more apparent than ever. We must ensure that new U.S. measures aimed at enhancing border security at our land borders don’t become a barrier to existing, integrated manufacturing processes, but allow for the efficient movement of goods between the world’s two largest trading partners.”

Canada, he said, needs a properly funded, comprehensive, strategic plan for its borders and highway infrastructure. “Critical decisions need to be made now, that will affect the next 30 years. For a trade dependent country this reality should be as important to Canadians as health care.”

“There can be no doubt that there has been a loss of productivity and efficiency in the movement of goods from Canada to the United States. The vision behind the December 2001, Manley-Ridge Smart Border Accord was not to take the border back to what it was on September 10th, 2001 but to develop a 21st century border that advanced both facilitation and security,” said Bradley.

“A host of new security measures have already been introduced, and several more are close to being implemented,” added Bradley. “How they are implemented and enforced – there are substantive practical and cost considerations – will be key to how effective they are in meeting the combined goals of improved security and trade efficiency.”

He said that the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program, which is supposed to facilitate the movement of low risk people and goods, “needs value-added incentives and should be used as the platform for other programs also requiring driver security background checks.” Bradley is also concerned that the burden of compliance is not being equally shared amongst all the players in the supply chain. He cited the recent introduction of US$5,000 to US$10,000 fines for advance cargo information violations that appear to be falling exclusively on carriers, when fault may lie with other trade chain partners.

Bradley is hopeful that the Common Security, Common Prosperity agenda recently endorsed by U.S. President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and further actions agreed to by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge and Canadian Deputy PM Anne McLellan, “have gotten the ball rolling again.”

Bradley also said U.S. Homeland Security officials have shown considerable flexibility on a host of issues, but added: “The process and the sheer volume of measures being introduced at the same time are causing unintended consequences and creating challenges for industry and government. We need to continue to work together to find practical solutions.”

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