President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper released the new action plan last week, called “Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness”, intended to harmonize regulatory requirements for the trading partners. According to a White House news release, trade and investment between the US and Canada totaled more than $1.1trn in 2010, and the two countries are each other’s largest export markets, with about 20% of all US exported goods going to Canada.
GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey said: “By reducing duplicative inspection protocols and harmonizing the respective regulatory requirements of each trading partner, this initiative will help to streamline cross border trade between the U.S. and Canada. As always, our commitment to food safety is our number one priority. The changes this initiative will institute will simply make the process of moving goods and services between our two countries more efficient and cost effective for both government and industry.”
In particular, the plan is intended to address border threats early; promote trade facilitation; strengthen cross-border law enforcement; and protect shared infrastructure, including enhancing cybersecurity, according to the document.
The initiative includes reducing the amount of duplicate cargo checking that happens on each side of the border, sharing more information on the upkeep of shared infrastructure, and updating equipment so that Canadian and US officials’ radios work on the same frequency, for example, among other plans.
“The food, beverage and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry exports $50 billion worth of goods to 215 countries around the globe, generating a $10 billion trade surplus,” Bailey said. “By streamlining cross border trade between the U.S. and Canada, Beyond the Border will help to build on that record of success. GMA and its members look forward to working with the regulatory agencies in the US and Canada as they begin to implement this important initiative.”
The plan is a set of guidelines for action, rather than a formal agreement, but the two countries have said that they will begin to implement the plans within the next three months.
The Wilson Center’s Canada Institute will monitor progress on the action plan.
Director of the Canada Institute David Biette said: "For Beyond the Border to be successful we need an informed public discussion of the progress on how it relates to public, private, and civil society interests.”