PM announces Joint Action Plans to boost security, trade and travel

Washington, D.C.
7 December 2011

Thank you, President Barack Obama, and ladies and gentlemen. This is a historic day.

Today, we are pleased to announce ambitious agreements on perimeter security and economic competitiveness, as well as on regulatory cooperation.

These agreements create a new, modern border for a new century. Together, they represent the most significant steps forward in Canada-US cooperation, since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The first agreement merges U.S. and Canadian security concerns with our mutual interests in keeping our border as open as possible to legitimate commerce and traffic.

As I said in February - Canada has no friend among America’s enemies. What threatens the security and well-being of the United States threatens the security and well-being of Canada. Nevertheless, measures to deal with criminal and terrorist threats can thicken the border, hindering our efforts to create jobs and growth. Today, our two governments are taking practical steps to reverse that direction.

We are agreed, for example, that the best place to deal with trouble is at the continental perimeter, that smarter systems can reduce the needless inconvenience posed to manufacturers and travellers by multiple inspections of freight and baggage, that goods should be once screened, twice accepted.  Demonstration projects at Prince Rupert and Montreal will soon begin.

We also believe that just as threats should be stopped at the perimeter, trusted travellers should cross the border more quickly. Indeed, these priorities are complementary: the key that locks the door against terrorists also opens a wider gate to cross-border trade and travel.

The second joint initiative will reduce regulatory barriers to trade, by streamlining and aligning standards where it makes sense to do so.

Naturally, in this area as in all others, no loss of sovereignty is contemplated by either of our governments. However, every rule needs a reason. Where no adequate reason exists for a rule or standard, and that rule hinders us from doing business, on both sides of the border, then that rule needs to be re-examined.

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s agreements will yield lasting benefits to travellers, traders, manufacturers - in fact everybody – whose legitimate business or pleasure takes them across the border. And we take these steps - both of us – to protect jobs, to grow our economies, and to keep our citizens safe.

I say “we,” because we are each other’s largest export customers. The benefits of cooperation will therefore be enjoyed on both sides of the border.

Let me also take this opportunity, Barack, to recognize your leadership in this work. This does reflect the vision - the large vision – that you have for continental trade and security and your commitment to the creation of jobs and growth. And it is, I believe, the next chapter in a marvellous relationship – a relationship that really is a shining example to the world.  If we could replicate our relationship anywhere in the world, the world would be a better place. We’re always delighted to be here - always thankful to have the United States as our great friend and neighbour, and again, delighted to be here today.