The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the American Trucking Associations, Inc. (ATA) are throwing their support behind a pre-clearance pilot project at the third busiest US-Canada border crossing.
The project was announced last month by Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister, Anne McLellan, and could see the relocation of all US border functions for both commercial and passenger traffic from Buffalo, NY to Fort Erie, ON.
The two national trucking organizations appeared before the Undersecretary of Border & Transportation Security at the Department of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson, and Canada’s National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Rob Wright, to say they “are eager to examine alternative clearance options that could facilitate the flow of commercial traffic by reducing both significant traffic disruptions and processing delays given the sheer traffic volumes in order to enhance highway safety, reduce emissions in border areas, increase security and facilitate cross-border trade.”
“When talking about border crossings, balancing these objectives is a challenge” said Alliance CEO David Bradley. “We are confident that the Peace Bridge pilot will demonstrate the benefits of pre-clearance.”
The ultimate outcome for both CTA and ATA is full pre-clearance of US-bound commercial traffic in Canada.
A second element of the pilot supposedly favoured by some US customs officials would limit US functions in Canada to pre-screening (e.g., VACIS (x-ray) scans, radiation monitoring, physical examination of cargo) only.
CTA and the ATA say they could not support, however, “an effort to “pre-screen” US-bound commercial vehicles on the Canadian side if it leads to a “thickening” of the border rather than a more efficient and effective security control process.”
“It is far too early in the game to know exactly how the pilot will unfold, and whether the results may have relevance for other border crossings, but we owe it to our members, to the shippers whose goods we carry, and to the people of both countries to constantly strive for improvements, and I’m hopeful this pilot will help us to learn how to do things better,” said Bradley.
ATA and CTA are insisting that they both be full participants in a pilot project steering committee which will be tasked with reviewing and providing input at each stage of the project.
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