Progress reports on perimeter security and economic competitiveness

Ottawa, Ontario
14 December 2012

The Government of Canada is committed to working with the United States to improve trade and travel between our countries while strengthening security and economic competitiveness. 

To this end, on December 14, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Barack Obama, President of the United States, welcomed the release of the first annual Beyond the Border Action Plan Implementation Report and the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Action Plan Progress Report, which demonstrate progress made by Canada and the United States on perimeter security and economic competitiveness. 

The Beyond the Border Action Plan Implementation Report was submitted to Prime Minister Harper by Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews in Canada, and to President Obama by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the United States. The Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan Progress Report was submitted by the Canadian and U.S. co-chairs of the Regulatory Cooperation Council.  

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama issued a Declaration on A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness and the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council on February 4, 2011, and released Action Plans for each on December 7, 2011. Both initiatives seek to deepen our partnership and enhance our mutual security, prosperity and economic competitiveness while respecting each other's sovereignty and privacy regimes. 

Beyond the Border Implementation Report

The Beyond the Border Action Plan outlines specific initiatives designed to speed up legitimate trade and travel, and improve security throughout North America. The Action Plan focuses on four areas of cooperation: 

  • addressing threats early;
  • facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs;
  • cross-border law enforcement; and,
  • critical infrastructure and cyber-security.

As part of this Action Plan, the governments of Canada and the United States established a bi-national Beyond the Border Executive Steering Committee (ESC) which is comprised of senior officials from each country, to oversee the implementation of the Plan.  To ensure transparency and accountability, Canada and the United States will issue a joint implementation report annually for a three-year period. The 2012 Beyond the Border Action Plan Implementation Report is the first of these reports. 

Action Plan Achievements 

Significant progress has been made over the past year.  This progress has been guided by extensive and constructive engagement with stakeholders in Canada and the United States, which informed the implementation of the Beyond the Border Action Plan. Stakeholder engagement will continue to inform the work going forward. 

In order to advance the Beyond the Border Action Plan in 2012, Canada and the United States: 

  • developed and released the Joint Statement of Privacy Principles to inform and guide information sharing under the Beyond the Border Action Plan;
  • achieved mutual recognition of our respective air cargo security programs for passenger aircraft, eliminating the need for rescreening except for cause;
  • initiated a joint entry/exit pilot project starting with foreign nationals and permanent residents at four ports of entry on our land border whereby the record of entry into one country is shared and becomes the record of exit from the other country;
  • developed an Integrated Cargo Security Strategy to address risks as early as possible associated with offshore shipments, and initiated a pilot to validate and shape the implementation of the strategy;
  • initiated a one-year sector-based pilot project that provides for advance review and clearance of official certification and alternative approaches to import inspection activities;
  • developed a detailed operational model for the upcoming deployment of the truck cargo facilitation pilot project;
  • developed a land border traffic management guide to be implemented in the event of an emergency;
  • began the first cross-border Regional Resilience Assessment Program project to improve the security of cross-border critical infrastructure;
  • released a joint Cybersecurity Action Plan;
  • expanded and enhanced the NEXUS trusted traveller program by providing additional benefits to members, such as access to expedited passenger screening lanes at airports in Canada, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lanes in the United States;
  • conducted consultations to facilitate cross-border business travel, and implemented various improvements;
  • announced regularized Shiprider operations; and
  • developed a joint Border Infrastructure Investment Plan. 

Moving Forward

While significant progress has been made over the past year, our work is not yet done. Canada and the United States are committed to this Action Plan, which represents the most significant boost to North American competitiveness since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Work on several additional initiatives is underway, including the harmonization of trusted-trader programs, the full implementation of an entry/exit program at the land border, and the negotiation of a preclearance agreement for the land, rail and marine modes together with an update to the existing pre-clearance agreement for the air mode.

Stakeholders have been supportive of the objectives behind this Action Plan, and their continued participation and support will be critical to our ongoing success.  We will continue to consult and keep Canadians informed as we implement the Action Plan. We look forward to reporting on progress on these and other initiatives in subsequent Beyond the Border Action Plan implementation reports.  

Further progress updates will continue to be made available through face to face engagement and regular updates to the website www.actionplan.gc.ca/BTB.   

Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Action Plan Progress Report 

The objective of the Action Plan is to make it easier for firms to do business on both sides of the border. The Canada-United States RCC Progress Report highlights the progress made over the last year, and that it is starting to generate momentum on overall regulatory cooperation between our two countries. 

A Process for Change

As stated by both leaders a year ago, the bilateral RCC initiative is a priority for both governments, and is an integral part of both countries' efforts to create jobs and grow their respective economies. 

Canadian and American regulators are using this initial Joint Action Plan to consider ways to address specific issues and further align our regulatory systems, and identify the means to secure further alignment of our regulatory systems moving forward, to generate benefits for consumers, businesses and regulators. 

The Canada-United States RCC Joint Action Plan has initiated a new level of dialogue on regulatory cooperation simultaneously across multiple regulatory agencies.  Although meaningful change requires time and sustained effort, a new direction for an enhanced regulatory relationship between Canada and the United States has been initiated. 

Progress

Following the release of the Joint Action Plan, bi-national working groups developed detailed implementation work plans for each of the 29 Joint Action Plan initiatives with concrete implementation objectives, deliverables and milestones for progress. The work we are doing with the United States is wide-ranging, and includes pilot projects, scientific and technical collaborations, harmonized testing procedures and joint standards. Specific examples of regulatory cooperation progress achieved over the past year include: 

  • the launch of pilot projects for simultaneous submissions to regulators in both countries for crop protection products;
  • in the area of veterinary drugs, simultaneous reviews by regulators in both countries for three drug submissions;   
  • initiation of a pilot project for the joint inspection of non-Canadian and non-U.S. flagged vessels entering the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway, focusing on security and pollution prevention, and monitoring living and working conditions for workers on these vessels; and
  • discussion of common policy principles that would guide an aligned approach to the regulatory oversight of nanotechnology and nanomaterials.

Overall, the implementation of the Joint Action Plan is on track.  

Moving Forward

Canada and the United States will continue to seek regulatory cooperation opportunities to secure greater alignment between both countries, with an increased focus on the ongoing systemic mechanisms to secure ongoing regulatory alignment. 

Stakeholder engagement is integral to the ongoing work under the Joint Action Plan, and this emphasis will increase as we move forward.  Stakeholders will be called upon to play an increasingly important role in supporting implementation efforts, and will be encouraged to continue to provide input on initiatives that are relevant for them.  Contact names are included in each work plan posted on the website.

Further details regarding the Progress Report, the Joint Action Plan, the work plans and the general work of the RCC are available at www.actionplan.gc.ca/RCC.