There is no mention of everything that goes along with the Border plan: drones patrolling the Canada-U.S. border, the American police now operating in Canada, the Troop Exchange Agreement, etc. Nor any explanation of the relationship between the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) and the SPP. If time permits, I’ll write a letter-to-editor in response.
By Lyle Stewart, The StarPhoenix
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama met last February to discuss border management and regulatory co-operation.
Both recognized the interdependence of our economies and the need to work together on both trade and security. The process that began in February culminated with the recent announcement that Canada and the United States had agreed on the Beyond the Border Action Plan.
This agreement allows us to start taking concrete steps to make improvements at the border. It makes good sense for Saskatchewan to have Canada working with the Americans to ease bottlenecks at border crossings, jointly assess threats and develop sensible and effective regulations.
Simple regulations sometimes can discourage companies from selling products or making investments across the border – whether they are Canadian firms looking south or American firms looking north. Both countries have different regulations and standards on everything from vehicles to food to consumer products.
In many cases, those rules are meant to accomplish the same safety objectives. However, because they vary, these can slow trade or make it harder to make goods compatible. Making a few co-ordinated changes that do not require a lot of government spending would have an immediate impact.
The action plan sets out ways we can begin to harmonize regulations where it makes sense, and to implement a system for the pre-clearance of goods before they get to the border. We can also expect to see improved service and shortened wait times at border crossings.
Better procedures such as these will benefit Saskatchewan, given our heavy reliance on international trade. Last year, just less than 40 per cent of the value of our provincial economy was a result of exports. This is more than Alberta (33 per cent) and British Columbia (22 per cent).
Saskatchewan’s single largest international trading partner is the United States, with almost two-thirds of our exports heading there. Indeed this action plan on the border is good for our province. By making things easier for our businesses, our economy is strengthened and our goods and services will be more competitive around the world.
The action plan outlines specific steps the United States and Canada are taking to improve trade partnerships, provide better security and improve the flow of legitimate goods and travel between our two countries. It is a beginning, not an end, and will require leadership on both sides to implement innovative solutions that challenge the status quo.
This opportunity also serves as a much needed reminder that we must work collaboratively to build solutions for the future that make all of our businesses more competitive in the global marketplace.
Here in Saskatchewan, we recognize the need to work closely with the U.S. on trade.
In 2008, Saskatchewan became a member of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) – a non-partisan, cross-border institution that advances the common interests of its members.
Through PNWER, legislators and business leaders from Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories interact regularly with their counterparts from across five U.S. states – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
By continuing to work through bi-national organizations such as PNWER and with the federal government to implement recommendations contained in the action plan, Saskatchewan can strengthen its trading relationship with the U.S. to secure a prosperous future for Saskatchewan people.