Business Groups Want Acceleration of Efforts to Increase North American Competitiveness

Major business groups from the U.S., Canada and Mexico sent a joint letter to their country’s leaders Oct. 3 urging an acceleration of efforts to strengthen economic relations among the NAFTA partners and enhance their competitiveness in the global economy.

The Business Roundtable, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Hombres de Negocios said the international trade and investment landscape has changed dramatically since NAFTA was enacted nearly 20 years ago and that despite the successes of that agreement there continue to be obstacles to doing business in the region. As a result, they said, more can and should be done to promote regulatory cooperation, facilitate the legitimate movement of people, goods and services throughout the North American market, and realize the potential for North American energy self-reliance. “The challenge,” the letter concluded, “is to move beyond pilot projects, feasibility studies and regulatory reviews to fuller implementation and longer-term, strategic action.”

Specific recommendations include the following.

Border Operations

- Beyond the Border pilot projects on pre-clearance and expedited flows of people and goods that have proven successful should be made permanent and integrated trilaterally whenever possible and as quickly as possible. The three governments should eventually recognize the equivalence of their security systems.

- The deployment and coordination of next-generation technologies to create a more automated and paperless experience at the borders should be accelerated. The groups expect that by end of 2014 the Canadian and U.S. governments will complete the single electronic window to satisfy all customs requirements and that by the end of 2013 all major crossings between Canada and the U.S. will be using radio frequency identification technology.

- An inventory of fees and charges levied at both the Canada-U.S. and U.S.-Mexico borders should be completed in 2013 with the objective of ensuring that no new fees are introduced and that fees that negatively affect supply chains are eliminated.

- Governments should increase resource sharing at the border by establishing integrated customs plazas and reducing duplication where appropriate. Customs and immigration officials should be designated to work within other relevant agencies on both sides of the border. For health and safety certification of goods, mutual accreditation of officials should begin on a pilot basis…

This has been excerpted from the 7 October 2013 article by Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg LLP, and is available in its entirety at: