SPECIAL REPORT: U.S. security rules create trade insecurity, Canadian group says

| 1/24/2003

The growing list of new U.S. security measures under the U.S. Homeland Security Bill and the U.S. Trade Act would harm just-in-time inventory systems and U.S.-Canadian trade, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

Last week, U.S. officials proposed a system requiring the electronic submission of cargo data to the U.S. Customs Service four hours before a truck is loaded in Canada for shipment to the United States and 24 hours prior to loading a truck in the United States destined for Canada.

David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said: "Carriers and shippers on both sides of the border are united in the view that these rules, if implemented, would cause mayhem within the North American supply chain and inventory-management systems. The proposed pre-notification time frames are unthinkable under just-in-time inventory systems."

Bradley lobbied U.S. government and industry officials Jan. 23 to review U.S. security measures, especially the 24-hour rule. He said the technology required to implement the rule would be "enormously expensive for all carriers and would be prohibitive for many smaller carriers."

Too much security?

Bradley also worries about the new U.S. Safe Explosives Act, which will ban Canadian drivers from shipping explosives into the United States as of Jan. 24 because a technicality in the bill's language will "scupper," or destroy, gains made under the 30 Point Smart Border Plan.

In addition, Bradley noted the Transportation Security Administration wants a Transportation Workers Identity Card that may or may not be available to Canadians. Moreover, there are the pending visa requirements for Canadian drivers from certain commonwealth countries.

"We are sympathetic to the very real concerns of the United States on security, and the trucking industry has supported the introduction of programs in Canada and the United States, but when do we say 'enough'? We are fast reaching the point where the world's largest trading partnership is being put in serious jeopardy," Bradley said.

Cabotage rules also a concern

While in the United States, Bradley also visited the Highway Committee of the National Industrial Transportation League, calling for reform of current North American cabotage rules.

He asked the shipper group to support rules modernization in both countries. Presently, Canadian and U.S. immigration laws are at odds with customs rules that allow point-to-point movements by Canadian or U.S. vehicles in the other country as part of an international movement or for the movement of empty trailers.

"Drivers moving empty trailers or switching trailers in the other country are not engaging in the local labor market," he said. "Modest reform of the immigration cabotage rules would create major opportunities for efficiency, productivity and service gains and would help carriers deal with the growing driver shortage and compliance with other regulatory requirements like hours of service."