The Midwest–Canada Relations Committee agreed unanimously to ask the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) to reconsider an excessive increase to its Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service fees.
Under the USDA proposal, cross-border transponder fees would increase from US$105 to US$320 per year, per truck – a 205% increase – regardless of whether the truck is carrying agricultural product or not. Including the $100 CBP portion, the total cost would be $420 per truck. Trucks without a transponder will see an increase from $10.75 to $13.50 per crossing, or 52%.
When it was first announced, the Canadian Trucking Alliance immediately argued the APHIS program exacts a heavy toll on all U.S.-Canada trade, and trucking companies in particular. Nor does APHIS use a risk assessment approach, thereby eroding the return on investment carriers have made to comply with binational trusted trader programs.
The Government of Canada and other trade interests soon echoed the CTA’s original concerns. The Midwest–Canada Relations Committee, which includes US state representatives, is now the latest group to take up the issue.
The committee was in Omaha, Nebraska this past weekend meeting with U.S. Congressmen and Senators to discuss a wide range of issues, particularly the APHIS fee.
Steinbach, Man. MLA Kelvin Goertzen welcomed the opportunity to discuss the issue with U.S. decision makers.
“Our region, like Canada as a whole, relies significantly on trade with the United States. When issues arise that make it more difficult for goods and people to cross the border or for trade to happen efficiently, it needs to be addressed. Being able to meet face to face with U.S. lawmakers is part of ensuring relationships remains strong and both our countries benefit,” he said.
Goertzen says the increased fee will hurt not only the trucking industry but trade in general and questions have been raised whether it is in compliance with current trade agreements between the two countries.
“The increase in fees per truck crossing into the United States represents a trade barrier and a real cost to our truckers and their companies. But more importantly it’s bad business between our two nations. The U.S. representatives I spoke with overwhelmingly understand that we have a strong mutually beneficial trading relationship and they expressed their own opposition to these increased fees. I hope that message is taken back to Washington,” said Goertzen.
CTA recently released a legal opinion conducted by the Gowlings legal firm which states the APHIS fees are inconsistent with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).