Last Friday, Rep. Bill Owens hosted a Beyond the Border (BTB) follow-up panel that discussed the successes of and remaining obstacles facing the border security and trade facilitation initiative between Canada and the United States.
Natasha Haverty, for North Country Public Radio, reports on meeting held at Clarkson University, which brought together business representatives with officials of the departments charged with coordinating BTB, the Canadian Privy Council Office and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
From Haverty’s report:
…Security and business leaders came up with a long list of obstacles, and an even longer list of action items. But both sides agreed that there are too many rules and regulations slowing down trade without making things safer.
The Honorable Kevin O’Shea, representing the Privy Council Office of the Canadian government, asked, “How is it that two countries like Canada, like the United States that have robust regulatory systems that essentially aim at the same outcomes, why do we have different standards for goods that you could scratch your head, as to why?”
…Brad Skinner, of the US Department of Homeland Security, said things have already gotten easier for travelers. For example, if you’re flying from Ottawa to Miami, with a stop in Chicago, he said your luggage is now screened just once, not twice.
Rep. Owens interest in the Canada-U.S. trade relationship is easy to trace. With Potsdam only 87 miles/140 km from Ottawa and 105 miles/169 km from Montreal, cross-border trade is critical to his district.
And a quick glance at Rep Owens economic press releases shows how the seemingly arcane nuances of international trade have real-life economic impacts in Canada and the United States.
The Potsdam meeting highlights the considerable progress made on the BTB Action Plan, a cross-border ‘to do’ list that includes such disparate elements from Great Lakes radio interoperability to aligning food & plant safety systems.
But the discussion also highlighted the need to fully implement BTB’s current action plan, and then tackling other impediments to cross-border trade.