Canadian Trucking Alliance President David Bradley commended today’s preclearance agreement between Canada and the U.S. as a positive step towards achieving the promises of a freer flowing, more efficient border under the Beyond the Border Action Plan.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Steven Blaney and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, signed a formal preclearance agreement, paving the way for changes to the way goods and people move across the border.
Bradley, who was present in Washington, DC for the signing, expressed support for what the trucking industry hopes will be an opportunity to redefine commercial truck processing. “Today’s news is a major step forward for both governments and the trucking industry,” said Bradley. “While legislation is required in both countries to fully implement the agreement, we’re now on a path toward a fully-functioning pre-clearance policy where and when it makes sense.
“The agreement reflects the hard work of many people in the Canadian and U.S. Governments, ” he said. “The yardsticks have definitely moved down the field.”
The Beyond the Border Action Plan of 2011 committed both governments to consider such an agreement, although plans stalled more than once. Nevertheless, two pre-inspection pilots conducted in BC and Ontario acted as precursors to today’s agreement, signalling commitment on both sides to explore whether or not preclearance is technologically and operationally possible.
The first, at the Pacific Highway crossing in 2013, required trucks to stop twice – once in Canada to engage with US CBP and again on the US side. While the pilot was touted by governments as a success, industry was concerned the two-stop scenario created redundancy and traffic delays. The second pilot in Fort Erie, Ont. instead established two pre-inspection booths on Canadian soil, dedicating resources from USCBP and Peace Bridge Authority to mitigate traffic delays.
To this point, CTA has maintained that the two pilots primarily tested “pre-inspection” rather than full pre-clearance. “True pre-clearance would see a truck fully cleared by customs before arriving at the border,” said Bradley. “This would allow a truck that has been pre-cleared to cross the border without having to stop at all. This is where the potential for real-world efficiency lies.
“Today’s Canada-US formal pre-clearance agreement provides a legal framework for more fulsome discussions to implement a permanent model of true preclearance.”