OTTAWA, ON – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is asking the federal government to help speed up border crossings for trucks, as work begins to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“While there is no doubt that there will always be costs associated with shipping, some of these costs can balloon even further when there are border processes, rules and infrastructure limitations (e.g. waiting times, lack of personnel, limited freight capacity, et.) added into those costs,” the group concludes in a report on how small businesses feel about NAFTA.
Specifically, the CFIB’s broad-ranging wish list for the trade deal looks to eliminate the multiple checks of goods as they travel through North America.
“Multiple examinations often lead to unexpected delays and increase costs that impact a business’ bottom line. Should the goods be perishable, the delays have even further consequences,” the federation concludes. “We would therefore encourage the Canadian government to consider raising the idea of removing multiple checkpoints when goods are traveling across North America so that when it has been inspected once, it can then travel right across North America without any significant barriers at the border.”
The federation also wants pre-screening programs to be more accessible to small operators.
“We recognize that there are currently a number of different programs that exist, including the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program between the U.S. and Canada, however, they are fairly limited in scope, are not all that accessible to smaller firms, and often do little to really improve the speed at which goods cross the border. Therefore, we encourage governments to look at how well these programs serve their intended purpose, and that they are east to access and more tailored to the needs of small firms,” it says.
A related CFIB survey found that 28% of small businesses trading with the U.S. or Mexico will alter export and import plans based on changes in the trade deal.
“There is a real concern, among our membership, that any changes to NAFTA could have significant effects on their ability to sell goods and services abroad, on their cost of importing goods, and on their ability to pass savings on to consumers,” Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice president – national affairs, said in a release. “As the negotiations begin, we have to ensure that NAFTA creates even more, not less, business opportunities for Canadian firms.”
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