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Streamlining Cross-Border Trade

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Photo from www.laughingdogbrewing.com Photo from www.laughingdogbrewing.com

Crossing the border from a Seat in the House

On December 7 United States President Obama and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a long-awaited border security agreement between the two countries. I don’t believe that the announcement of the agreement by the President and the Prime Minister was covered by our local media but this a significant agreement between our two countries. The agreement will be implemented through two action plans: 1) The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness and 2) The Action Plan on Regulatory cooperation.

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness “focuses on four areas of cooperation between the two countries: addressing threats early; facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs; integrating cross-border law enforcement; and improving critical infrastructure and cyber-security.”

The Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation “will help reduce barriers to trade, lower costs for consumers and business, and create economic opportunities on both sides of the border.”

The agreement of our two countries implemented under these two action plans is aimed at streamlining cross-border trade at the same it provides for improved intelligence sharing to enhance both countries’ security measures.

In the area of cross-border trade today’s down economy has forced us to look for new and innovative ways to create jobs and increase economic growth. When discussing strategies for increasing trade, almost no one thinks of the most obvious trading relationship poised for the most growth in the short-term—the U.S./Canada market. 

Currently, more than $1.6 billion in goods and services as well as 300,000 people cross the Canada–United States border every day—that’s over a million dollars a minute. More than 8 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada, over 360,000 jobs in the five northwest states alone. Canada is the most important foreign export destination for 34 U.S. states, and Canada buys more goods and services from the United States than Germany and China combined. Finally, in 2010 the increase in exports to Canada alone was greater than all U.S. trade with Brazil, double all U.S. trade with India, and triple all U.S. trade with Russia. 

In Idaho alone 39,900 jobs in our state depend on Canada-U.S. trade. Thirty-four Canadian-owned companies in Idaho employ 2,742 people and in terms of Idaho exports we sell more goods to Canada than to any other country in the world. In Bonner and Kootenai counties we have at least three companies exporting their products to our northern neighbors, including Laughing Dog Brewing who just started exporting their product to Alberta.

These numbers point to an excellent opportunity to look to our closest neighbor to increase jobs and enhance our economic recovery. In their announcement of the new border agreement the leaders of our two countries recognized the interdependence of our economies and the need to work together to improve trade and enhance security. 

Even very simple regulatory barriers can play a role in discouraging U.S. companies from venturing north. An example of a specific regulatory barrier is that currently the U.S. and Canada have different standards on gas tank sizes in automobiles. This is problematic in several of the manufacturing processes, especially since a car is often shipped across the border as many as eight times during the manufacturing process. 

Several coordinated changes are possible on current regulatory barriers that do not require significant government spending to implement and have an immediate beneficial impact on trade. Agreements on the same specific regulatory standards for both countries makes sense in that it will reduce costs and also help open up the market to products that have been limited to just domestic markets in the past.

The action plans to implement the agreement announced December 7 by the two leaders “was developed through a coordinated consultative process and is intended to produce specific outcomes and timelines to improve border security and enhance economic cooperation by reducing regulatory irritants that hinder trade. It outlines specific steps the U.S. and Canada are working on to better partner in trade, provide better security in a risk based approach, and make it easier for legitimate goods and travel to take place between our two countries.”  

The action plans implementing the agreement lay out a structure with responsibilities and timelines for success. They are is a beginning, not an end, and it will require leadership on both sides of the border to implement innovative solutions that challenge the status quo. The agreement also serves as a much needed reminder that we must work collaboratively with stakeholders on both sides of the border to build solutions for the future that make all of our businesses more competitive in the global marketplace. 

This agreement will enhance the security and economic competiveness of our two countries and I believe we will see businesses in our own Pacific Northwest region taking advantage of the economic potential unlocked by the U.S./Canada border agreement as the agreement is implemented. 

As a reminder to River Journal readers, I will be representing your interests in Boise beginning on January 9, when the 2nd regular session of the 61st Idaho Legislature convenes. Please feel free to contact me with issues of interest to you. You can reach me in Boise by phone at 1-800-626-0471, by E-mail at geskridge(at)house.idaho.gov and by regular mail at Capitol Building, 700 W. Jefferson, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038. 

Thanks for reading!

George

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Author info

Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

Tagged as:

Politics, Bonner County, Idaho, Laughing Dog Brewing, Canada, A Seat in the House, George Eskridge, border trade, The Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation, U.S., Kootenai County, 61st Idaho Legislature, The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic

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