WASHINGTON, D.C. –
 Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced today that Canada and the United States have agreed to implement two action plans designed to speed up legitimate trade and travel, improve security in North America, and align regulatory approaches between the two countries.“Billions of dollars worth of goods and hundreds of thousands of people cross our shared border every day,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “Moving security to the perimeter of our continent will transform our border and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of goods and people between our two countries.”

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness focuses on four areas of cooperation: addressing threats early; facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs; integrating cross-border law enforcement; and improving critical infrastructure and cyber-security.

“We are pursuing an ambitious global trade agenda, while at the same time ensuring enhanced access to the United States, our largest and most important trading partner,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “Together, these agreements represent the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

The Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation will help reduce barriers to trade, lower costs for consumers and business, and create economic opportunities on both sides of the border. It identifies 29 initiatives where Canada and the U.S. will align their regulatory approaches in the areas of agriculture and food, transportation, health and personal care products, chemical management, the environment, and other cross-sectoral areas, while not compromising our health, safety or environmental protection standards.

“This Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation will break down regulatory barriers and will make it easier for our firms and manufacturers to do business on both sides of the border,” added the Prime Minister.

The two action plans respect the sovereignty of both countries and specify they will work together to promote the principles of human rights, privacy and civil liberty essential to the rule of law and the effective management of our perimeter.

As the action plans are implemented, the Government will consult with Parliament and Canadians and keep them informed of progress.

Detailed backgrounders on each area of cooperation and what the initiatives will mean are available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.

 

Backgrounder

BILATERAL RELATIONS

CANADA-U.S. TRADE AND INVESTMENT

 

The Canada-United States trade relationship is an example of how partners can benefit from opening their borders to trade.  Canada and the United States have long shared the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world. In 2010, bilateral trade reached $645.7 billion, representing some $1.8 billion worth of goods and services crossing the border every day (approximately $1.2 million a minute).  One in seven Canadian jobs depend on trade with the United-States. Over eight million US jobs depend on trade with Canada.

 

Of the 50 U.S. states, 35 count Canada as their number one export market, with Canada ranking in the top three export markets for a further 12 states. Over 4,500 Canadian-owned businesses in 17,000 U.S. locations employ more than 568,000 Americans.

 

In 2010, Canadian merchandise exports to the United States reached $298.4 billion, an increase of 10.5% over 2009. Though still short of 2008 levels, bilateral trade continues to show signs of returning momentum in the wake of the global economic downturn.

 

Top (non-energy) Canadian exports to the United States include vehicles, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, and paper/paperboard. Canada is the largest supplier of foreign oil, nuclear fuel, electricity, and natural gas to the United States.

 

Leading Canadian merchandise imports from the United States include vehicles, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, mineral fuels and oils, and plastics.

 

Canada and the United States have one of the world’s largest investment relationships. The United States is the largest foreign investor in Canada, with U.S. investors holding 54.5 percent (valued at $306.1 billion) of Canada’s total inward investment stock in 2010. According to U.S. statistics, Canada is the fifth-largest investor in the United States, with investments totalling $206.1 billion in 2010.

 

 

Backgrounder

WHAT THE ACTION PLAN MEANS FOR THE ECONOMY, JOBS AND GROWTH

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.

 

In a typical year, more than $500 billion worth of two-way trade takes place between Canada and the U.S.  Canadian exports to the U.S. support one in seven jobs in our country, and U.S. exports to Canada support some eight million jobs in the U.S. Clearly, the economic impact of an efficient Canada-U.S. border is critically important for the continued competitiveness of our exporting and importing industries.

 

Duplicate inspections, delays at the border and paperwork all come with a hefty price tag for trading companies, their employees and the economy as a whole. The most conservative estimates suggest that inefficiencies at the Canada-U.S. border impose a direct cost on the Canadian economy of one percent of GDP, or $16 billion a year. Even a modest improvement in border efficiency will result in significant and lasting economic gains.

 

The Action Plan aims to make the land border as efficient as possible through:

 

  • Conducting harmonized and mutually recognized screening of shipments arriving from offshore, at the perimeter.  This means that under the Action Plan, shipments will be screened at the first point of entry, and not re-screened all over again when they cross the Canada-U.S. land border;
  • Focusing land border inspections on high and unknown risk travellers and shipments, and not on known low-risk travellers and shipments.  Under the Action Plan, membership in programs for trusted traders and travellers – such as NEXUS and FAST – will be expanded and their benefits increased, and;
  • Making appropriate investments in physical infrastructure and technology at the border, such as expanding the number of NEXUS and FAST lanes and installing faster document readers.  These investments will help ensure that the enhanced efficiencies cited above are fully realized.

 

What follows is a sampling of the kinds of measures to be developed in each one of these areas.

 

Increasing reliance on aligned and coordinated security systems for inspecting goods at the perimeter

 

  • Develop an integrated cargo security strategy, which would include harmonized and mutually accepted approaches to inspecting inbound air and marine cargo at the first point of arrival in North America under the principle “cleared once, accepted twice.” This would reduce the number of shipments that are subject to rescreening when they are shipped across the Canada-U.S. border. By 2013, pilot projects will be launched that will assess and examine inbound marine cargo at Prince Rupert and Montreal. If successful, these year-long pilots will be made permanent and expanded to other marine ports in Canada and the U.S.
  • For all modes of transportation, harmonize the data that companies are required to submit in advance, including for trans-border shipments, to ease the administrative burden on companies of these important requirements.
  • Develop mutual recognition of air cargo security programs to eliminate the need for duplicate screening.

Improving risk-based management of trade and travel at the land border

 

  • Harmonize and enhance the benefits of trusted trader and traveller programs, so that they deliver more value to members, thereby increasing membership. Canada and the U.S. will explore product-specific pilots to lower inspection rates in certain sectors, based on a history of good compliance. Canada will lead two pilot projects for the agri-food sector, including one for the processed-food industry, and the U.S. will lead a pilot for the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Implement a single window for companies to submit electronically all the data required by government departments for arriving shipments.
  • Streamline administrative and operational procedures for business travellers.  Business travellers often run into difficulty when trying to cross the border due to red tape and complicated administrative procedures.  Under the Action Plan, they will benefit from more efficient and predictable border clearances.
  • Develop an overall approach to future preclearance initiatives, as well as immediately start to implement a number of agreed pre-inspection and preclearance initiatives in the rail, marine and highway modes of transportation. By September 2012, at least one commercially important point of entry will be identified where a pilot project to pre-inspect truck cargo will be launched. The pilot project will run for one year, after which time consideration will be given to expanding it to additional points of entry. In addition, Canada and the U.S. will initiate a one-year pilot project by June 2012 to provide for advance review and clearance of official certification, as well as for alternative approaches to import inspection activities for fresh meat.
  • Increase and harmonize the value thresholds for expedited customs clearance and streamline current import processes for low-value shipments to minimize the burden at the border for these kinds of shipments.
  • Conduct an independent assessment of the impact of all border-related fees and charges on those key industries which rely on cross-border trade.

 

Investing in improved shared border infrastructure and technology

 

  • Upgrade infrastructure, such as adding additional lanes and expanding access roads, at key crossings to relieve congestion and speed up movement of traffic across the border.
  • Establish wait-time service levels and deploy border wait-time technology to provide businesses with publicly available and predictable information on which to base their planning.  For example, at the land border, wait-time service levels will be set and information made available in real time so that truckers carrying “just-in-time” shipments, such as lobster or sea food for U.S. restaurant markets, are better able to plan their border crossings.
  • Ensure that the enhanced and expanded trusted trader and trusted traveler programs have the infrastructure required to fully realize their intended benefits to members.
  • Improve the coordination of daily operations at border ports of entry and jointly plan new infrastructure at the border.

 

The Government of Canada remains committed to the construction of the Detroit River International Crossing. A second bridge at the busiest border crossing between our two countries is essential for job creation and economic growth in Southwestern Ontario.

 

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.

 

 

Backgrounder

WHAT THE ACTION PLAN MEANS FOR EVERYONE CROSSING THE CANADA-U.S. BORDER

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.

 

More than 200,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border every day to visit friends or loved ones or to carry out legitimate business activities. In their joint Declaration in February 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama announced that both countries would be taking steps to strengthen the security of North America’s perimeter so that the flow of people, goods and services across the shared border could be made more efficient than ever.

 

What follows is a sampling of measures in the Action Plan that will make life easier for travellers.

 

Facilitating movement of travellers across the border

 

  • Business travellers sometimes run into difficulty when trying to cross the border due to red tape and complicated administrative procedures.  Under the Action Plan, administrative and operational procedures will be streamlined to provide simpler more predictable treatment for business travellers.
  • Currently, flights originating in Canada with U.S. connections require bags to be screened once on departure from Canada, and again at the connecting U.S. airport, resulting in delays and increased costs for airlines and travelers.  Under the Action Plan, travelling to the U.S. by air will be made easier by eliminating duplicate baggage screening over the next three and a half years, thereby reducing connection times, as well as costs.
  • At the land border, wait-time service levels will be set and information made available in real time so that truckers carrying “just-in-time” shipments and other travellers can better plan their border crossings.

 

Enhancing the benefits of trusted traveller programs

 

  • Programs on both sides of the border for low-risk trusted travellers will be better aligned and their benefits increased, making them a more attractive option. These additional benefits include improvements to the enrolment and renewal processes and access to dedicated lanes for pre-flight security screening at airports for flights from Canada to the U.S.; and
  • Both countries will work to extend the applicability of the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card for drivers to cover other specified security programs.

Investing in shared border infrastructure and technology

  • Both countries will commit to a five-year Border Infrastructure Investment Plan to reduce congestion and wait times;
  • Physical and technological infrastructure at the border, such as additional lanes, booths and custom plaza improvements, will be expanded  in order to realize the full benefits of the improvements to programs such as NEXUS and FAST; and
  • Bi-national port operations committees will work to coordinate plans and responses to port-specific issues, such as local border wait times and hours of operation, thereby improving predictable service levels for travellers and shippers.

 

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca

 

Backgrounder

WHAT THE ACTION PLAN WILL DELIVER TO CANADIAN TAXPAYERS

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.

 

Implementing the Action Plan will involve investments in each of the four areas of cooperation: addressing threats early, facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs, integrating cross-border law enforcement and improving critical infrastructure and cyber-security. There will be costs associated with purchasing and installing new technologies, hiring staff to run new border programs and investing in infrastructure.

 

A more efficient border will bring substantial returns in terms of saving both time and money.

 

Here is why:

 

A number of studies* inside and outside of government have taken a close look at the costs to Canadian importers, exporters and consumers associated with the Canada-U.S. border. According to conservative estimates, the border costs are the equivalent each year of 1 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product. In 2010, our GDP was more than $1.6 trillion. That means the border imposes costs on the Canadian economy amounting to some $16 billion a year.

 

Even if the Action Plan only thins the border modestly over the next five years, the savings to the Canadian economy would be several hundreds of millions of dollars a year. These savings would continue into the future. In other words, the dividends to Canadian taxpayers and the Canadian economy will far exceed the amount Canadians will invest in implementing the Action Plan and making our border with the United States more efficient.

 

In addition to savings for the economy as a whole, there will also be savings for individuals and businesses. For example, setting up a single window for companies to submit electronically, in one place, all the data required by governments will save the companies time and money. Increasing and harmonizing the value thresholds for expedited customs clearance and streamlining import processes for low-value shipments will minimize the cost burden at the border for these kinds of shipments. And mutually recognizing outbound checked baggage systems will eliminate redundant screening and save travellers time and money while helping to ensure their baggage gets to their destinations at the same time they do.

 

As it implements the Action Plan, the Government of Canada will continue to provide Canadians with a regular accounting of the benefits. Each year, an annual report will be prepared for the Prime Minister and the President on what has been implemented and what remains to be done. These reports will be provided to Parliament and made available to all Canadians.

 

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca

 

*Studies and Reports

 

The Canada-US Border Survey Descriptive Report (Statistics Canada, 2009), corroborated by Logistics Services Industries Border Survey—Report (Statistics Canada, 2009-2011)

 

A Study of the Impacts of the United States Border Security Measures on the Competitiveness of Canada’s Food Manufacturers/Exporters (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2009)

 

Is Just-in-Case Replacing Just-in-Time? How Cross-Border Behaviour Has Changed since 9/11 (Conference Board of Canada, 2007)

 

Sectoral and Enterprise Size Impacts of Post 9/11 Trading Environment on Canadian Exports to the US (Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 2011)

 

Understanding the Canada-U.S. Border’s Impact on the Movement of People to Support the Movement of Goods (Policy Horizons Canada, 2011)

 

Canada to United States—Border Crossing Study (Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, 2007)

 

Cross Border Flow Analysis Study—Gaps, Challenges and Solutions (InterVistas, 2010)

 

-“U.S.–Canada Transportation and Logistics: Border Impacts and Costs, Causes and Possible Solutions” (John C. Taylor, Douglas R. Robideaux and George C. Jackson, Transportation Journal, 2004)

 

Trucking Across the Border: The Relative Cost of Cross-border and Domestic Trucking, 2004 to 2009 (Anderson and Brown, manuscript, 2011)

 

-“Border Delays Re-Emerging Priority: Within-Country Dimensions for Canada” (Trien T. Nguyen and Randall M. Wigle, Canadian Public Policy 37.1 [2011])

 

 

Backgrounder

TURNING WORDS INTO ACTION THROUGH PILOT PROJECTS

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical roadmap for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.

 

It proposes a shift in how Canada and the United States will jointly manage security risks and the movement of people, goods and services in North America. Traditionally, those efforts have focused on the border between our two countries. The Action Plan proposes to shift that focus to the perimeter of North America and to address threats as early as possible.

 

Doing so makes sense from both a security and an economic point of view. If Canada and the United States can identify high-risk trade and travellers before they arrive at our borders, better protection can be provided to our citizens and our communities, pressures can be relieved at our shared border and legitimate flows of trade and travellers can be streamlined.

 

Such an important change cannot happen overnight or even over one year. It requires careful planning and testing. The Action Plan proposes several pilot projects as prime tools for validating new approaches to bring about, step by step, this ambitious, but achievable transformation of our border management. They are an integral part of the Action Plan because they allow us to “test-drive” innovative solutions and make necessary changes before launching programmes. This will help save time and money and it will deliver better value for taxpayer dollars.

 

A case in point is the pilot projects which will be launched in September 2012 in Prince Rupert and Montreal under the Integrated Cargo Security Strategy. The strategy is designed to address the risks associated with shipments arriving from offshore countries at their first port of entry, so that subsequent re-screening at the border can be reduced to a minimum. If the results of the pilot projects prove positive, this approach would become the new normal for checking cargo from third countries and thus relieving pressures at the Canada-U.S. border.

 

Another example of pilot project testing under the Action Plan is in law enforcement.  Over the years Canada and the United States have developed successful models for preventing criminals from crossing the border in order to escape justice. For example, the Shiprider program employs cross-designated officers to patrol the waterways between our two countries.

 

The Action Plan proposes to launch so-called “Next Generation” Canada-U.S. integrated border enforcement teams that will include best practices from other existing programs such as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program by the end of the summer of 2012. These law enforcement projects will be on land, but they will draw their inspiration from the Shiprider program. If the results of the pilot projects are positive, these operations would be regularized and become a permanent feature of cross-border law enforcement.

 

The Action Plan provides for pilot projects in a number of other areas as well. The following are just a few specific examples:

 

  • In April 2012 a one-year pilot project will be initiated to provide trusted trader benefits to the processed food sector;

 

  • In September 2012 a truck-cargo pre-inspection pilot project will be launched in at least one border crossing in Canada;

 

  • In June 2012 a one-year pilot project will begin for advance review and clearance of official certification and alternative approaches to import inspection activities for fresh meat; and

 

  • Also in June 2012, as part of establishing an entry and exit information system on travellers, a pilot project will be launched concerning third-country nationals, permanent residents of Canada and lawful residents of the United States at two to four automated common land border ports of entry.

 

The results and evaluation of these pilot projects will be part and parcel of the reports that will be prepared each year for the Prime Minister and the President and shared with Parliament and Canadians on the implementation of the Action Plan.

 

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca

 

 

Backgrounder

EXAMPLES OF ACTION PLAN BENEFITS

According to a range of studies, inefficiencies at the Canada-U.S. border impose a direct cost on the Canadian economy of 1 per cent of GDP, which is $16 billion a year or roughly $500 for each man, woman and child in Canada.  Let’s look at some specific, practical examples of how the Action Plan will benefit groups.

 

First: What will the Action Plan do for Canadian businesses that ship products to the U.S.?

 

Take rail companies as an example. Right now, cargo on trains travelling to the U.S. is screened at the sea port of entry into Canada and again at the land border. This increases costs, delays and scheduling uncertainty for rail companies and their U.S. customers.

 

When the Action Plan is fully implemented, the principle of “screened once, accepted twice” will apply. This approach will not only strengthen the management of security and other risks from offshore but will streamline Canada-U.S. border crossings as well. The cargo on trains will be screened once at the time it arrives at port, for example in Prince Rupert. But, it will be accepted twice by both Canada and the U.S. and will pass the border, if it is moving to the U.S., much more easily than it does today.

 

Second: How about Canadian travellers? How will the Action Plan help?

 

Let’s take Marie as an example. She travels on a holiday to the U.S. and uses pre-clearance facilities at the Canadian airport. This is fine if Marie is travelling directly to her destination. But, if she changes planes in the U.S. to fly to a second destination, her baggage, which has been already cleared at the pre-clearance point in Canada, is re-inspected again. This can lead to missed flights, lost baggage and frustration all around.

 

Under the Action Plan, Marie’s bags would be screened once in Canada, using state of the art equipment, and would follow her to her destination in the U.S.  This will save her and the airline time and money. In fact, eliminating the re-screening of baggage will save Canadian and U.S. air carriers more the $50 million a year.

 

And now, a third example: A company that imports refrigerators from the U.S. How will the Action Plan help that company?

 

Refrigerators are, of course, made of many different components. As a result, when Refrigerator Import Company wants to import a fridge, it has to file paperwork manually with up to nine different government departments. For example, Natural Resources Canada requires regulatory labelling, as outlined in the Energy Efficiency Act. Under the Action Plan that company would be able to submit all the required paperwork to one Website–that is, it would be filed and assessed electronically.

 

These are just three practical examples of how the Action Plan will benefit Canadians.

 

 

Backgrounder

WHAT THE ACTION PLAN MEANS FOR SECURITY

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.

 

The February 2011 joint Declaration by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama called for Canada and the United States to pursue a perimeter approach to security, working together within, at and away from the borders of both countries to enhance security, while accelerating the legitimate flow of people, goods and services.

 

Strengthening mutual security by addressing threats as early as possible, especially at the perimeter before they arrive in North America, makes sense from both a security and an economic perspective. If Canada and the U.S. can better identify high-risk trade and travellers before they arrive at our borders, it will mean better protection for our citizens while streamlining legitimate flows of trade and travellers across the border.

 

What follows is a sampling of the kinds of measures to be pursued to promote greater security.

Developing a common understanding of the threat and risk environment

 

  • Canada and the U.S. will conduct joint intelligence assessments on national security and terrorist threats within, at, and away from our borders, so as to develop a common understanding of shared high priority threats;
  • Canada and the U.S. will review current cross-border information sharing practices to see how they can be responsibly improved between law enforcement and national security agencies;
  • The two countries will cooperate on research and share best practices on efforts to counter violent extremism, including through community-driven approaches; and
  • Joint assessments and audits for plant, animal and food safety systems in third countries will be conducted to better protect consumers and producers in North America.

 

More effectively identifying people who pose a risk

  • Both countries will use improved methods to more reliably stop high-risk travellers and stop inadmissible persons from boarding planes bound for either country;
  • Entry-exit verification will be put in place so that both countries can count people coming in and going out to enforce immigration and other programs; and
  • Both countries will commit to greater information sharing with regard to persons seeking to travel to either country, so that each country has better information to independently determine who is admissible, and who is not.

 

Better aligning and coordinating security systems for goods, cargo and baggage

 

  • An integrated cargo security strategy will be developed, including common standards for screening inbound air and marine cargo at the first point of arrival in North America. Under the principle “cleared once, accepted twice,” this same cargo would then be given accelerated passage across the land border;
  • The two countries will mutually recognize each other’s air cargo security programs to better align screening efforts and resources and reduce compliance burdens on industry; and
  • The two countries will harmonize advance data requirements for clearing cargo shipments at the border to simplify the reporting burden on industry on both sides of the border.

 

Building on successful cooperative law enforcement programs

 

  • Currently, criminals can attempt to escape justice simply by crossing the border.  Under the Action Plan, law enforcement officials will have better tools to pursue criminals across the border, and to bring them to justice.  For example, programmes such as Shiprider allow Canadian and American law enforcement officials to operate on both sides of the border, under the direction and laws of the host country.  By regularizing Shiprider and adopting the Shiprider model on land, we will be in a better position to prevent criminals from escaping justice by simply crossing the border.
  • In some cases, law enforcement officials have difficulty communicating with each other across the border because their radios work on different frequencies.  Under the Action Plan, both countries will make use of new cost-effective technology to implement an interoperable cross-border radio system that will allow police officers and other first responders to provide more timely responses to border incidents.

.

Enhancing resilience of shared critical and cyber infrastructure

  • Both countries will work together to enhance the protection and resilience of vital cross-border critical infrastructure, such as transportation systems, pipelines and electricity grids; and
  • Coordination between Canadian and U.S. cyber-security operations centres will be improved through closer cooperation between departments tasked with preventing and responding to cyber attacks.

 

Better cooperating in the preparation for disasters and emergencies

 

  • Both countries will take the steps necessary to quickly restore cross-border flows after an emergency.  This will be accomplished by developing detailed regional plans with local officials and stakeholders, such as local police, first responders and municipal officials; and
  • Both countries will prepare together for health security threats and other binational disasters.

 

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca

 

Backgrounder

WHAT THE ACTION PLAN MEANS FOR PRIVACY

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.

 

Canada and the United States have a long history of working together to defend the freedoms and rights of our citizens and dealing with threats to our collective security. Cross-border cooperation and information sharing are crucial to these efforts.

 

In launching work on an action plan, both countries subscribed from the very beginning to two fundamental principles:

 

  • First, each country would respect the other’s sovereign right to act independently in accordance with their own interests and laws; and
  • Second, promotion of the principles of human rights, privacy and civil liberty by both countries is essential to the rule of law and effective management of our perimeter.

 

Consistent with these principles, both countries are committed to protecting privacy in all the initiatives undertaken and to ensuring that information sharing is pursued responsibly and with the appropriate safeguards. To this end, as an early deliverable, Canada and the U.S. will develop a set of joint privacy protection principles to guide and inform the implementation of all initiatives in the Action Plan. Information will be shared responsibly and in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian privacy laws.

 

Along with other issues to be determined, the set of joint principles will guide the following: data quality; necessity and minimization; access; record ratification; purpose specification and use limitation; onward transfer to third countries; retention; security safeguards; effective oversight; redress and transparency; and appropriate exceptions, such as exceptions intended to protect the privacy and identity of a victim and the identity of an informant, or to protect against disclosure of information that could jeopardize a law enforcement investigation.

 

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca

 

 

Backgrounder

CONSULTING CANADIANS

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.

 

In developing the Action Plan, the Government of Canada engaged directly with Canadians to ensure it heard from as many stakeholders as possible, including other levels of government, business, labour, civil society, border communities, Aboriginal groups, think tanks, academics and individual citizens.

 

Three main channels were used: provincial and territorial engagement; face-to-face meetings; and online consultation.

Provincial and territorial governments

 

Shortly after the release of the Declaration of a Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness in February 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote to all provincial and territorial premiers asking them to identify representatives to provide input on border issues as part of the consultation process. Subsequently, the Government of Canada met multiple times with provincial and territorial representatives to listen to and understand their jurisdictions’ perspectives on the border. Written submissions were also received from a number of these governments, with advice and suggestions on border measures important to their populations.

 

Bilateral meetings with key stakeholders

 

The government also reached out to key stakeholders to solicit their views through face-to-face meetings across the country. It held meetings with large and small businesses, from a variety of sectors including, but not limited to, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and tourism. The government also met with the associations representing these businesses and with major national labour unions. Finally, to ensure a thorough and balanced perspective, the government reached out to individual border communities, Aboriginal organizations, civil society groups, think tanks and academics with an interest or expertise in border issues. Through these meetings, the government received direct input from 110 stakeholders, including 54 written submissions.

 

Online consultation

 

To ensure that any interested individual or group could provide input on the Declaration, the Government of Canada launched a website, www.borderactionplan.gc.ca. The website was designed to inform Canadians about the Declaration and invite them to share their thoughts on the key areas of collaboration. Media events were held to launch the website and publicize it to Canadians. When the 41st federal general election caused online consultations to be suspended, the government extended the deadline to allow Canadians more time to comment. Overall, the website had more than 16,000 unique visitors and received more than 1,000 submissions.

 

Reporting back to Canadians

 

On August 29, 2011, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird released What Canadians Told Us: A Report on Consultations on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Between Canada and the United States, a summary of the input the Government received from the consultation process described above.

 

As the Action Plan is implemented, the Government will continue to consult relevant stakeholders and Canadians on these issues.

 

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. The Action Plan and Summary on Consultations are both available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.

 

 

Backgrounder

UNITED STATES-CANADA REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL (RCC)

JOINT ACTION PLAN

DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING THE JOINT ACTION PLAN

On February 4, 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced the creation of a U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to better align our regulatory approaches. The goal of regulatory cooperation is to remove unnecessary requirements and align standards. Such differences and duplications slow down trade and investment, limit timely access to products, and add costs to manufacturers and consumers. The RCC’s work will focus on addressing these, thus making it easier for Canadian and American firms to do business on both sides of the border.

The Importance of Regulatory Cooperation

Canada and the U.S. have a relationship characterized by highly integrated economies. It is estimated that the Canada-U.S. two-way trade in goods surpassed $500 billion in 2010, that over 70% of Canadian exports go to the U.S., and that exports to the U.S. account for one in seven jobs in our country.

Both Canada and the U.S. have highly successful, world class regulatory systems that have evolved independently at the same time as our economies have grown closer. This unique situation between Canada and the U.S. creates a significant opportunity for cooperation that will benefit both businesses and consumers. We can become more efficient and effective by streamlining and aligning standards and removing duplicative requirements such as independent approvals for the same products, re-inspections and requirements for unnecessary certification or verifications of products.

The Work of the Regulatory Cooperation Council

 

Canada and the United States tasked a group of senior officials from both sides of the border to look at ways to align regulations to ease the flow of goods across the border.

 

The work of the RCC is guided by the following principles:

 

  • Canada and the U.S. each maintain its own sovereign regulatory system;
  • Regulatory outcomes for consumer protection, health, safety, security and the environment will not be compromised;
  • New regulatory systems be designed with the goal of achieving alignment, where feasible and appropriate;
  • In addition to resolving existing unnecessary divergences, mechanisms to facilitate and secure future alignment would be developed;
  • Transparency and early engagement between countries and with stakeholders underlie the efforts of the RCC; and
  • We are pursuing opportunities that provide benefits to both Canada and the U.S.

 

The Joint Action Plan

 

The RCC consulted business groups and regulators in both countries. It asked Canadians and stakeholders on both sides of the border for their views. Based on these inputs, the RCC developed the Joint Action Plan as a starting point for a change in our regulatory relationship with the United States.

 

The Joint Action Plan represents Canada and U.S. agreement on 29 initiatives that will serve as an important first step in establishing a new level of regulatory cooperation and alignment between Canada and the United States. Initiatives are concentrated on sectors of the economy.  Whenever possible, solutions that are developed under the Joint Action Plan will be used as models for achieving greater alignment in other areas.

These initiatives are organized under the following sectoral categories:

 

  • Agriculture and Food
  • Transportation
  • Health and Personal Care Products and Workplace Chemicals
  • Environment

 

Two other initiatives (small business lens and nanomaterials) will address issues affecting more than one sector.

 

Work under the Joint Action Plan will be consistent with both countries’ sovereignty, privacy regimes and distinct legal and regulatory frameworks.  Cooperative alignment can occur while respecting these laws and leaving final decisions in the hands of each sovereign jurisdiction.

 

The role of the RCC in implementing the Joint Action Plan will be one of broad engagement, bilateral and horizontal coordination. Meetings of the RCC will be held quarterly to discuss progress.  Stakeholder engagement sessions will be held as part of these meetings twice per year, and results of the RCC work will be made public on a regular basis.

 

Implementing the Action Plan / The Working Groups

 

The initiatives outlined in the Joint Action Plan will be implemented by working groups made up of officials from regulatory agencies on both sides of the border.  These working groups will be led by senior officials in the implicated departments with responsibility for the regulations and their implementation.

 

The RCC will work closely with the working groups and will undertake to resolve systemic or horizontal challenges facing them.

 

In implementing the 29 initiatives identified in this Joint Action Plan, working groups will be responsible for developing work plans with concrete objectives, deliverables and setting out milestones for tangible progress within the RCC’s two-year mandate.  Work will be focused on resolving issues in ways that contribute to long-term alignment, engaging stakeholders effectively, and ensuring timely progress.

 

 

For more information please visit:

www.borderactionplan.gc.ca

 

 

Backgrounder

REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL ACTION PLAN BENEFITS

 

Canada and the United States both have highly successful, world-class regulatory systems that have evolved independently while our economies have grown closer. By removing unnecessary requirements and aligning standards, we are making it easier for Canadian and American companies to do business on both sides of the border. Greater regulatory cooperation will mean lower costs and better access for businesses and consumers, and facilitated trade between our two countries.

 

The RCC is developing ways to change how we work together to share information, align approaches and rely on the results of each others’ regulatory systems.  A range of distinct requirements have been generated through our regulatory systems (e.g. different labelling requirements, standards or product approval processes), and these differences mean that businesses have to either change their products for each country or go through separate approval processes in order to market their product in both Canada and the U.S.  This is costly and inefficient.

 

The Action Plan seeks to develop solutions that are not simply one-offs.  Rather, the goal is to understand what caused the misalignment in the first place and create  permanent solutions  Here are a few examples:

 

Naming of Meat Cuts

 

Canada and the U.S. use similar specifications for producing meat, however they often use different names to describe meat cuts. For example, in the U.S., terms such as “peameal bacon”, “chicken tenderloin”, and “flatiron steak” are widely used, however these terms are not permitted in Canada.  Such variations, even when slight, create costly problems for Canadian and U.S. importers and exporters when managing supply chain steps such as meat production, labelling, inventory maintenance and certification. This can have a significant impact on the competitiveness and innovation of the integrated sector. In addition, they can create confusion for consumers. By aligning the approach to naming meat cuts, we could be saving business time and money and providing one information system for consumers.

 

Vehicle Standards

 

The North American auto market produces over 16.5 million vehicles annually, and is responsible for 500 000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and 3.2 million in the United States.  Cars are similar on both sides of the border but small things like differing standards for car frames can mean increased costs for manufacturers, which could be avoided if standards were aligned.  Production procedures within the same plant and assembly line need to be adjusted to produce two versions of the same vehicle model – depending on where the vehicles are being sold.  By aligning standards, companies could not only cut down on costs resulting from production, but also produce only one prototype for use in vehicle testing in both countries – saving several hundreds of thousands of dollars in prototype production per vehicle model.

 

Product Approvals

 

Getting products approved takes time and costs companies money.  As a result, companies will make decisions on what approvals to pursue based on a variety of factors, including the size of markets. Since Canada is the smaller of the two markets, companies may decide that going through the approvals process twice is not worth the cost.

 

For example, Canadian farmers do not have access to all of the same veterinary drugs as their American counterparts. By aligning their applications for approvals, manufacturers can apply for approvals simultaneously in both countries, while maintaining each country’s sovereign right to decide whether or not products will be approved for its market.

 

Similar issues arise with consumer personal care products, such as over-the-counter topical ointment or pain relievers.  By better aligning our approval processes we will make it easier and more cost effective for companies to market products in both countries simultaneously and for regulators in both countries to share information while still coming to their own conclusions on product approvals.

 

 

Backgrounder

UNITED STATES-CANADA REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL (RCC)

WHAT THE JOINT ACTION PLAN MEANS FOR TRANSPORTATION

Transportation is a crucial component of the economies of Canada and the United States. The two countries share the longest land border in the world and have common access to three oceans, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Transportation must be safe, secure and efficient in order to move the people and goods upon which both countries depend.

 

With respect to transportation, the Joint Action Plan focuses regulatory reform efforts on surface, marine, and general transportation issues. Surface transportation (cars, trucks and trains) affects almost all aspects of the Canada-U.S. economic partnership. In this regard, enhanced regulatory cooperation will have wide-ranging benefits. Marine transportation refers to the waterways shared by Canada and the U.S. that are central to each country’s quality of life and economic health.  Finally, there are other transportation issues where further regulatory cooperation would improve the competitiveness of businesses, facilitate cross-border trade, and foster a joint approach toward emerging transportation technology.

 

The Joint Action Plan proposes implementing the following:

 

Surface (road and rail)

Surface transportation (cars, trucks and trains) affects almost all aspects of the Canada-U.S. economic partnership.  Canadian and American railways carried more than 13.7 million containers and trailers in 2010. In this regard, greater harmonization of vehicle safety standards in such areas as side impact and ejection mitigation will reduce production and design costs, will facilitate the considerable cross-border trade in vehicles and parts, and will ultimately make the North American automobile manufacturing sector more competitive on the world stage. Similarly, further harmonizing regulatory rail safety regimes will make this mode of transportation more efficient, allow for easier flow of cargo, and help enhance the safety and reliability of both countries’ rail systems.

 

In this regard, the Joint Action Plan proposes to:

 

  • Align existing motor vehicle safety standards, beginning with side impact and ejection mitigation standards;
  • Establish a common regulatory agenda for all new motor vehicle safety standards;
  • Work together to develop regulations and standards to fully support the integration of intelligent transportation systems; and
  • More closely align rail safety standards and jointly conduct periodic reviews of regulations.

 

Marine

 

Harmonizing Canadian and American marine regulatory regimes will ensure that marine transportation remains a source of employment for more than 13 million Canadians and Americans, and that the sector will remain a key component of economic growth. Facilitating the flow of bilateral trade via further aligned regulations will also contribute to the competitiveness of the North American marine shipping industry by allowing goods to be shipped to markets in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

 

With respect to marine transportation, the Joint Action Plan proposes to:

 

  • Establish a Canada-U.S. safety and security framework for the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system to streamline regulatory requirements;
  • Align the marine transportation security requirements;
  • Align recreational boat manufacturing standards and harmonize monitoring and compliance regimes; and
  • Move to a common standard for lifejackets, and consider developing mutual recognition arrangements for other marine safety equipment.

 

Other Issues

There are other transportation issues, such as standards pertaining to the containment of dangerous goods and unmanned aircraft systems, where further regulatory cooperation would improve the competitiveness of businesses, facilitate cross-border trade, and foster a joint approach toward emerging transportation technology.

 

The Joint Action Plan proposes to:

  • Better align Canadian and U.S. standards on the containment of dangerous goods; and
  • Share experiences related to unmanned aircraft systems, to align future regulatory approaches.

 

More details on these and other Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan measures are available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.

 

 

Backgrounder

UNITED STATES-CANADA REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL (RCC)

WHAT THE JOINT ACTION PLAN MEANS

FOR AGRICULTURE AND FOOD

Bilateral trade in Agriculture and Food between Canada and the U.S. has enabled both countries’ citizens to enjoy a reliable supply of some of the safest and highest quality food in the world. In 2010, with $33 billion in total bilateral trade in agricultural products, Canada purchased approximately 13% of American exports, while Canadian products made up nearly one-fifth of agricultural imports into the American market. On both sides of the border, this bilateral trade provides people with employment opportunities; consumers with a greater variety of safe and high-quality food products; and agricultural producers and food processors with a larger and more diversified market in which to operate.

 

Increased regulatory cooperation in this sector will help make it easier to conduct business between the two countries, thus contributing to the benefits of Canada-U.S. trade in agriculture and agri-food products. By bringing together regulators and technical experts from both sides of the border, the collective capacity will serve to mutually strengthen the Canadian and U.S. regulatory systems for agriculture and food.

 

The Joint Action Plan focuses on three aspects of agriculture and food: food safety, agricultural production and marketing.

 

Food Safety

 

Canada and the U.S. have very rigorous food safety systems to protect consumers and contribute to the success of the sector. Acknowledging the high food safety standards on both sides of the border provides an opportunity to focus on areas of higher risk, while removing unnecessary burdens on food producers. Although each country independently administers its regulations – and there can be differences in approach – whenever possible, efforts should be focused on regulatory alignment recognizing common health and safety outcomes.

 

In this regard, the Joint Action Plan proposes to:

 

  • Develop common approaches to food safety systems in order to align efforts and minimize the need for each country to conduct inspection activities in the other country;
  • Streamline requirements, and where possible, reduce duplicative regulatory activities under Canada and U.S. meat and poultry inspection systems;
  • Ensure food safety testing in one country is acceptable to regulators in both countries and facilitate cross-border use of laboratory results; and
  • Streamline export certification for meat and poultry, and simplify and reduce, where possible, import and administrative procedures.

 

Agricultural Production

 

Canadian and U.S. regulatory requirements and approval processes for agricultural products such as veterinary drugs and crop protection products (like pesticides) are already highly aligned; however, more could be done to encourage simultaneous application for approval in both countries and to minimize differences in maximum residue limits.

 

The initiatives related to Agricultural Production in the Joint Action Plan propose to:

 

 

  • Create an environment to allow for simultaneous submission and joint review of pesticide applications in order to facilitate equal access to crop protection products and minimize differences in maximum pesticide residue limits and tolerances;
  • Further align approval processes for veterinary drugs, therefore promoting equal access to veterinary drug products and minimizing differences in maximum drug residue limits and tolerances;
  • Develop a North American perimeter approach for plant protection in order to collectively protect plant resources and streamline certification for shipments across the Canada-U.S. border; and
  • Develop a common approach for zoning to help prevent the spread of foreign animal diseases.

 

Marketing

 

Canada and the U.S. recognize the need for common, fair trading practices to support a secure and stable market place (like tools to mitigate losses resulting from unethical actions and labelling standards consistent with industry conventions). To ensure a fair and competitive market for all producers, the Joint Action Plan will work toward establishing mechanisms that provide Canadian and American businesses with comparable tools to alleviate the risks associated with buyers who default on their payments. Specifically, it proposes to:

 

  • Create a common meat-cut nomenclature or naming system and a mechanism for maintaining that system; and
  • Develop comparable approaches to protect Canada and U.S. fruit and vegetable suppliers from buyers who default on their payments.

 

More details on these and other Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan measures are available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.

 

 

Backgrounder

UNITED STATES-CANADA REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL (RCC)

WHAT THE JOINT ACTION PLAN MEANS FOR HEALTH AND

PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS AND WORKPLACE CHEMICALS

 

Regulations pertaining to health, therapeutic and personal care products (non-prescription drugs) and workplace chemicals all serve to minimize health risks to citizens while maximizing their safety.  Although health and personal care product safety standards in Canada and the United States are amongst the highest in the world, further collaboration between the regulatory agencies will reduce costs for manufacturers of pharmaceutical and therapeutic products and improve the efficiency of the regulatory decision making process.  This will, in turn, minimize delays in bringing health and consumer health products to the marketplace without compromising the safety, efficacy and quality of the products.

 

Increased regulatory cooperation in the area of health and personal care products and workplace chemicals will create efficiencies, reduce inspection duplication, enable products to be brought to market more quickly, facilitate trade, and lessen the potential for classification and labelling confusion.   Specifically, the Joint Action Plan aims to enhance regulatory cooperation in these areas by implementing:

 

  • A common secure electronic submission system to allow industry applicants to submit documents to Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration;
  • Common monographs (information on product specifications and use) for over-the-counter drugs;
  • Mutual reliance on routine inspections of production facilities for drugs and personal care products; and
  • Common classification and labelling requirements for workplace hazardous chemicals.

 

More details on these and other Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan measures are available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.

 

Backgrounder

UNITED STATES-CANADA REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL (RCC)

WHAT THE JOINT ACTION PLAN MEANS – CROSS-SECTORAL INITIATIVES

 

Closer coordination on the following cross-sectoral regulatory issues will complement the sectoral issues considered in this initial Joint Action Plan.

 

Small Business Lens

 

Complex and overlapping regulatory requirements place unnecessary burden on businesses, reducing their competitiveness and forcing owners to spend time and money that could be better spent on innovation and strengthening the economy.

 

In addition, regulatory requirements in general often place a disproportionate burden on small businesses. In 2011, Canada and the U.S. made independent commitments to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses in their respective jurisdictions by taking better consideration of small business realities when designing new regulations.

 

The Joint Action Plan includes a cross-sectoral initiative that builds on both Canada’s and the U.S.’s respective work in reducing the regulatory burden on small businesses. This Joint Action Plan proposes to:

 

  • Share approaches and tools being developed by Canada and the U.S. to assess and account for the needs of small businesses when developing regulations.

 

Early information sharing will provide an opportunity to enhance regulators’ sensitivity to small businesses, particularly those engaged in cross-border trade. Canada-U.S. collaboration is anticipated to result in increased, risk-appropriate, regulatory flexibility for small businesses, which will better enable them to comply with regulatory requirements.

 

Building on the work of the Red Tape Reduction Commission, which is working closely with Canadian industry to reduce the burden of regulation on businesses that operate in Canada, the Government of Canada is creating a better economic environment so that small businesses can continue to grow and create jobs.

 

Nanomaterials

Nanomaterials are extremely small amounts of matter, typically from 1 to 100 nanometres (nm) in size – by comparison, a human hair is about 100,000 nm in diameter. Nanomaterials can be used to create new and innovative materials, devices and systems. Ensuring that Canada and the U.S. apply similar regulatory approaches to nanomaterials will be critical in reducing risks to environmental and human health while fostering innovation. Existing domestic statutes have provided a firm foundation for the regulation and oversight of nanomaterials, which are used in a broad range of applications, from consumer goods (e.g., tennis balls and paint) to medical purposes (e.g., disease detection and enhanced surgical procedures). Aligned regulatory approaches will ensure consistency for consumers and industry within and between both countries. The Joint Action Plan proposes to:

 

  • Share information and develop joint Canada-U.S. approaches on regulatory aspects of nanomaterials.

 

This will include developing consistent approaches to the risk assessment and management of nanomaterials, as well as sharing scientific and regulatory expertise.

 

More details on these and other Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan measures are available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.

 

Backgrounder

UNITED STATES-CANADA REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL (RCC)

WHAT THE JOINT ACTION PLAN MEANS

FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Canada and the U.S. have a long history of collaborating on joint environmental challenges, from the shared stewardship of trans-boundary waters to the protection of migratory wildlife. Air emissions are an important area of collaboration, given that air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions cross national boundaries. The 1991 Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, for example, committed both countries to reducing acid rain, and has since been expanded to address other challenges.

The highly integrated nature of our economies also makes it essential for both countries to work together to pursue common regulations where appropriate. To combat climate change and air quality issues, Canada and the U.S. have implemented aggressive and aligned emissions standards in the transportation sector. Continuing progressive action to reduce greenhouse gases from vehicles is a priority for both countries as is maintaining safety, environmental standards and protections.

 

The following is a summary of the ways in which the Joint Action Plan aims to enhance regulatory cooperation on environmental issues:

 

  • Increase technical cooperation and testing for vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks (model years 2017-25);
  • Work jointly to develop potential greenhouse gas emissions regulations for locomotives; and
  • Aim to expand the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement to address particulate matter.

 

More details on these and other Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan measures are available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.