A shared vision for perimeter security and competitiveness: a bold step that must result in timely concrete action says Canadian Chamber of Commerce

OTTAWA, Feb. 4 /CNW/ - Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama unveiled a new vision for the Canada-U.S. border and a new direction for the bilateral trading relationship. The announcement is applauded as a step in the right direction by the business community on both sides of the border. 

At a time when the global economy is undergoing significant shifts, it is imperative that both countries recognize the advantages of the integrated North American market by reducing unnecessary regulatory barriers and improving the efficiency of the border. Canada needs to develop a dedicated strategy for engagement in the U.S. that focuses on highlighting the gains from the bilateral arrangement and promoting free trade.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Perrin Beatty, welcomed today's announcement as a positive step in the right direction: "We have to give full marks to the two leaders for making such an ambitious gesture. The challenge now is to turn the vision into reality. Since 9/11, there have been dramatic increases in security measures at the border—costly measures that have resulted in greater numbers of fees and inspections for those who use the border the most. When coupled with growing layers of regulations, increasing regulatory complexity, infrastructure constraints and uncertain wait times it is not surprising that the business community has been calling for a more trade-friendly border.

"Management of the Canada-U.S. border is a complex issue that calls for the careful balancing of security, sovereignty and trade issues, recognized Mr. Beatty. "All levels of government must now commit to take this initiative to the next level if both countries are going to benefit. This announcement must result in the more efficient border that Canadian businesses need now to become more competitive. We need concrete actions and not just words. Let's get this done!"

Mr. Beatty added: "Today, more than ever, is the time for a more modern and effective border policy. In the 21st century, border exists wherever sovereignties intersect. This means that our physical security depends upon our ability to push out our borders through an intelligence-based approach to security. Such an approach would allow us to intercept threats long before they reach our shores."

In 2009, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce partnered with over 47 business associations on both sides of the border to produce a set of practical recommendations for the Canada-U.S. border. The recommendations put forth in Finding the Balance: Shared Border of the Future are designed to reduce border costs while strengthening security. The recommendations are there, it is now up to the government to follow through with the commitment made today by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 192,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions.

SOURCE Canadian Chamber of Commerce, The

For further information:

Émilie Potvin
Director, Public Affairs
Office: 613.238.4000 (231)
Cell: 613.797.1860
epotvin@chamber.ca

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Canadian Chamber of Commerce, The

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