Ottawa faces challenge to keep border trade flowing

by Canadian Shipper

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Manley, says that ensuring a free flow of trade across the Canada-U.S. border is one of the biggest challenges facing Ottawa in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Manley stressed the need for maintaining an open border in the long term.

“There can be no way that our economy will do as well if we don’t address that need to have the border flowing very freely,” he told the Canadian Press.

Manley met Wednesday with Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor who now heads the Office of Homeland Security set up by U.S. President George W. Bush.
Manley has made it clear that the twin issues of border security and trade would top the agenda.

Manley said that disruptions in cross-border commercial traffic were “the most important repercussion of the events of Sept. 11 for Canada.”

But he also disagreed that Ottawa is facing pressure to harmonize its immigration and refugee rules with U.S. policies as the price of easing trade.

“If you’re asking has the United States asked us to do anything in particular in terms of changing any of our policies, no they have not,” he said.

Manley noted that security inspections at border points were also tightened – on both sides of the boundary – following Sept. 11.

But the impact on Canadian manufacturers was greater because the U.S. had fewer customs officers along its side of the border, leading to long delays in processing southbound commercial traffic.

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