Truckers hopeful about progress on border security, emissions, after Washington summit

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Canada’s truckers are cautiously optimistic about the state of bi-lateral relations between Canada and the United States, following yesterday’s meeting between Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama in Washington. Two of their main issues of concern are enhanced border security and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said in a statement that the meeting of the two leaders highlighted the need to “build on and accelerate” the work of existing agreements to facilitate trade between the two countries.

While there were no new announcements, the president of CTA, David Bradley, commented that it is always a good thing when the leaders of the two countries agree “even directionally” to cooperate on matters such as border efficiency and facilitation of low-risk traders.

One area that was mentioned in the communiqué from the leaders was that of border pre-clearance. An agreement in principle to expand pre-clearance at two Canadian airports and two rail services was announced, but no mention was made of freight other than to say that the two governments would continue to explore the conditions necessary for cargo pre-clearance. The CTA’s hope is that commercial trucks will eventually be pre-cleared for crossing the border long before they reach it, at the factory or distribution centre, for example, but says they are far from that today. The main obstacle to this “true” pre-clearance has been a US insistence on retaining full US legal powers on Canadian soil.

The leaders also reaffirmed an agreement to implement a system whereby basic biographic entry information would be exchanged at the land border. The CTA considers sharing entry data to be preferable to a previous U.S. proposal whereby its customs and border patrol agents would stop every vehicle prior to exiting from the country, which would have increased the risk of delays both entering and exiting the United States.

Concerning greenhouse gas emissions standards, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to finalize and implement a second phase of aligned standards for post-2018 model year on-road heavy-duty vehicles. CTA supports heavy vehicle GHG-reduction standards, but believes that alignment should not mean that Canada simply adopts the US rules and should instead introduce rules that specifically take into consideration Canada’s unique operating conditions.

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