ARCHIVED - Speech for Minister Toews at the Can/Am Border Trade Alliance Conference
Canada-U.S. Cooperation for a Smart Border: Overview and Update

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Ottawa, Ontario
May 6, 2013

Check against delivery

Thank you very much and good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be here. 

Before I begin, as you may be aware, Ambassador Jacobson's appointment is coming to an end.

I want to take the opportunity to say thank you, Ambassador, for your service in fostering the relationship between Canada and the U.S., and supporting the exceptional communication between our two nations.

I want to welcome everyone to Ottawa, especially our guests from the U.S.

This is always a great conference and I have to congratulate Jim Phillips (President and CEO) and his team for putting together another informative and thought-provoking program.

Ladies and gentlemen, if I may, with the recent events in Boston, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate Canada's solidarity with the United States.

In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings, officials with the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were in contact to coordinate efforts to protect public safety on both sides of the border.

This quick action, and the fact that each Agency had its counterpart top of mind, is a testament to the strength of the relationship between the CBSA and U.S. CBP, and the trust they have built over the years.

This example speaks to the strength of our relationship with the United States overall.

Our American friends and neighbours know that they can count on us to be a stalwart partner in protecting the safety and security of both countries.

We are more than trading partners —we are friends and neighbours.

When our two nations are under attack, we stand together to defend our shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. 

As the theme of this conference reminds us, we are two countries, but in many ways, we have, and need, a unified focus. 

Providing the level of security we need in today's complex threat environment is a significant undertaking.

Doing so without encumbering the biggest and most important bilateral trading relationship in the world makes the challenge even greater.

The participation and input of this organization has been  a key element in our joint effort to enhance our security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods and services at the Canada–U.S. border.

So it is good to see such great attendance again this year.  Your continued engagement is absolutely essential.

Today, I am pleased to report that with our Government's efforts here in Canada and in collaboration with our partners in the United States, we are making substantial progress toward our goals.

We continue to move forward with the implementation of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, developing and implementing new measures to strengthen our mutual security while fostering the economic relationship between Canada and the United States.

The economic relationship, of course, is fundamental to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in both our countries.

Our bilateral trade is now close to $700 billion a year.[1]

Some $1.6 billion worth of goods and services and more than 300,000 people cross the border each and every day.[2]

Canada is the number-one export market for 35 U.S. states and more than eight million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada.

In this country, one out of every seven jobs can be linked directly to our exports to the United States.[3]

Ladies and gentlemen, security is key to maintaining and growing that relationship.

The closer we can work together to identify and address potential threats as early as possible, the more efficiently legitimate commerce will be able to flow between Canada and the U.S.

It has been just over a year since Prime Minister Harper and President Obama launched the Beyond the Border Action Plan, and we are already seeing important results — results that will benefit businesses on both sides of the border.

In Canada, for example, we are working towards streamlining the processes of data requirements of different government departments.

The goal is a single window — importers will be able to submit information electronically to all departments involved with just one click.

We are moving forward with our commitments in the Integrated Cargo Security Strategy, continuing to harmonize standards and testing new approaches to further ease congestion at the border.

Last October, we launched a pilot project for marine cargo arriving at the port of Prince Rupert, B.C.

Cargo cleared for entry to Canada is simultaneously cleared for entry to the United States — cleared once; accepted twice.

We expect to launch a second pilot for incoming cargo at the Port of Montreal in the coming months.

In March, Secretary Napolitano and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding clearing the way for a pilot project in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection will conduct cargo pre-inspection of U.S-bound trucks in Canada.

In addition, the Pre-load Air Cargo Targeting pilot has been underway since last fall and an expanded version of FAST is being tested at the Blue Water Bridge crossing in Sarnia.

Partners in Protection and Customs Self-Assessment trusted traders can the access FAST lanes without having to be members of both programs — again, harmonizing U.S. and Canadian standards.

If the pilot is successful, we could see this implemented on a permanent basis at all three ports where FAST is now in place.

We are also installing new wait-time technology at key ports of entry to enable more effective logistics planning.

In British Columbia, NEXUS lanes in Douglas and Abbotsford opened last November.

We opened an additional lane to better manage peak period traffic at the Surrey-Blaine crossing in February and in Ontario, a third Nexus lane was opened at both the Peace Bridge and Fort Erie crossings.

We continue to promote membership in NEXUS and we are now over 800,000 members.

Expanding our trusted trader and trusted traveller programs, reducing paperwork and expanding pre-clearance programs — these are all integral to making the border more efficient and supporting economic growth in both our countries.

It is no longer just raw materials and finished products moving back-and-forth across the border.

Increasingly, we are seeing businesses on both sides of the border building products together, working to produce and assemble parts and components.

The concept of "just in time delivery" is more important than ever.

Pre-clearance and other programs are key to creating a more efficient border, but they cannot work without the support provided by modern, efficient border infrastructure.

Through Canada's Economic Action Plan 2013, our Government is investing in a series of improvements at four of our busiest border crossings, including St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec; Lansdowne, Ontario; Emerson, Manitoba; and North Portal, Saskatchewan.

This is in keeping with our commitment to the five-year Canada-U.S. Border Infrastructure Investment Plan.

We are coordinating our infrastructure upgrades, so crossings are more efficient no matter which way you're going.

Of course, we cannot talk about infrastructure without mentioning Windsor-Detroit.

I am sure we can all agree the awarding of a Presidential Permit for the Detroit-Windsor bridge last month was very good news.

Through Economic Action Plan 2013, our Government will provide $25 million over the next three years to move this massive project to the pre-procurement stage.

Investments in border infrastructure provide short- and long-term benefits.

The Windsor-Detroit region can look forward to thousands of good jobs during construction, and it is expected that thousands more will be created by the new commercial opportunities that a larger, more secure and more efficient crossing will generate.

We are also addressing other threats to our joint security and economic well-being.

In March, our Government introduced new legislation to address the growing problem of counterfeit goods.

This legislation gives new authority to police and customs officials to seize and destroy shipments of counterfeit and pirated products.

 It will also establish new criminal provisions for copyright and trademark infringement.

It will help ensure businesses in Canada and the U.S. enjoy similar protection from counterfeiters.

This is a global problem and we will continue to work with our partners in the United States and with our allies around the world to identify and respond to these kinds of threats.

As close as we are, Canada and the U.S. are independent countries with our own sovereign interests, which we will continue to pursue in our own ways.

There are, however, areas in which our sovereign interests coincide.

Preserving and growing our economic relationship and protecting the peace and security we enjoy — we cannot do these things as effectively if we act unilaterally.

The connections are too many and too complex and we must work together.

The Beyond the Border Action Plan is our commitment to do just that on these key issues.

We are developing and implementing the innovative measures that enhance our joint security while assuring that the legitimate flow of goods, services and people across our shared border is as efficient as possible.

We are making real progress toward those goals and with the continued support of organizations like the Can-Am Border Trade Alliance, we will continue to get the results that we want and that we need.

Thank you very much and best wishes for an informative and productive session here in Ottawa.

[1] The Canada-U.S. trade and investment partnership

[2] 2012 Beyond the Border Implementation Report

[3] Canada is the top export destination for 38 states

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