U.S. and Canada move to speed up border crossing

| 12/6/2001

On Monday, the Quebec government announced a new federal customs program to ease congestion at border crossings into Canada. Quebec will spend $75 million to add a special heavy-trucking lane on the Highway 15 approach to the busy Lacolle-Champlain border. It will also build a truckstop and reception terminal.

According to the Montreal Gazette, under the new plan, truckers are now able to present a simplified cargo document bearing a bar code indicating the cargo has been pre-registered for customs purposes. Border officers may still inspect these trucks, but truckers won't have to make a second stop at a nearby customs broker to pay any duties. The bar-code information will result in the shipper being billed directly.

New measures like these are important to the U.S. and Canadian economies. Under free trade, Canadian exports to the United States tripled to $369 billion last year while imports have similarly tripled to $268 billion. Trade with the United States now represents half of private-sector output. But 90 percent of this trade uses only 11 border crossings, and lengthening border delays are estimated to cost at least 5 percent of the value of all shipments. Such delays cost an estimated $30 billion annually, the newspaper reported.

Since Sept. 11, the U.S. and Canadian governments say improving border security has been a top priority.