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
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.