Toronto, ON and Cleveland, OH – September 11, 2001 was a sea change event that forever altered the processes and operations of the shared United States (U.S.)-Canada land border. Immediately following that catastrophic event, security trumped trade activities. Thankfully, this mindset and policy approach to border management has gradually morphed into a focus on the equally important mission of expediting legitimate legal trade and travel while maintaining required levels of security to insure public safety. While much progress is being made, the costs of complying and crossing the U.S.-Canada Border, currently amounting to billions of dollars annually in compliance, delays and wait times, still remain a major concern.
The development of the Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border Vision and Action Plan has provided the impetus for the critical paradigm in thinking and border cooperation between the two federal Governments to take hold. The Action Plan is in the implementation stage and stakeholder ideas, expertise and support is much needed, and in fact welcomed, by both Governments. For example, the signed Pre-Clearance Agreement for Land, Marine and Rail Modes is an significant outcome of the Action Plan, but it needs legislation passed in both countries to become an operational reality and to achieve major positive shifts in border management.
Regional Border Issues Work Group
In the mid 1990’s Jim Phillips, President & CEO of the Canadian-American Border Trade Alliance (Can/Am BTA) developed and co-chaired the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region’s (PNWER) Border Issues Work Group, which continues to be extremely active on many border issues and an effective voice because of its ability to bring together different interests, sectors and organizations from around the PNWER region in tackling cross-border challenges.
Currently, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is the only major region along the U.S.–Canada border that does not have an organized Border Issues Work Group. Given this region is responsible for roughly 50% of the total value of goods trade between the two countries and represents USD$5.8 trillion in economic activity (the third largest economy in the world if the region was a country), it’s time to have a focused conversation about border issues that matter to the region.
Therefore, at the invitation of Mark Fisher, President & CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Region, Jim Phillips, President & CEO of the Can/AM BTA, has agreed to co-chair and assist in the development and implementation of the Council’s new Border Issues Work Group. Bill Anderson, Ontario Research Chair in Cross-Border Transportation Policy and Director of the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor will be the other co-chair.
Organizational details and program of work will be developed and membership on the Working Group will be solicited from members of the Council of Great Lakes Region and the Can/Am BTA. Within the Working Group, a Pre-clearance Task Force will be established to join forces with other regions, such as PNWER, in advocating for the passage of legislation to implement the recently signed U.S.-Canada Pre-Clearance Agreement for Land, Marine and Rail Modes, which would achieve a major shift in the management of the border and help accelerate trade, travel and tourism in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region.
About the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance (Can/Am BTA)
The Can/Am BTA, formed in 1992, is a transcontinental, bi-national, broad based organization with participation from all 27 states on or near the U.S.-Canada Border and the Canadian Provinces. The combined network involves over 60,000 companies and organizations in their individual memberships and includes members from border trade, border crossing and transportation segments, such as producers, shippers, brokers, mode transportation providers, bridge and tunnel operators, chambers of commerce, business and trade corridor associations and economic development and government agencies. The CAN/AM BTA’s major focus areas are Border Management, Trade, Transportation and Visitation. You can learn more about the Can/AM BTA at www.canambta.org.
About the University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute
The Cross-Border Institute (CBI) at the University of Windsor was founded in 2008 under the direction of Dr. Bill Anderson, Ontario Research Chair in Cross-Border Transportation Policy. It is dedicated to research, education and public outreach related to the movement of people, goods and services across the Canada-US border. It takes a multi-disciplinary perspective, incorporating engineering, economics, the social sciences, management and law. CBI’s location steps away from the Windsor- Detroit border – the largest point of crossing for the huge Canada-US trade relationship – provides a unique perspective from which to study the impact of trends in cross-border transportation, trade, technology, and policy decisions by governments on both sides of the border.