Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ontario Chamber of Commerce

May 22, 2007 09:59 ET

Joint Business Delegation Urges Resumption of Shared Border Management Negotiations

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 22, 2007) - Negotiations regarding pre-clearance at the Fort Erie/Buffalo Peace River Bridge must resume in order to continue the crucial efforts to strengthen the US and Canadian economies - that according to business representatives from Canada and the United States.

"Canada is the US's largest trading partner," explains Len Crispino, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. "Our border crossings should be the lifelines of our economies - instead they are the chokepoints - costing the US and Canada billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and ultimately depriving Canadians and Americans of jobs."

Representatives of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) are meeting with key U.S. officials in Washington this week in order to motivate the Department of Homeland Security to return to the negotiations regarding Shared Border Management.

Negotiations had been underway for close to three years to move all customs to the Canadian side of the border in order to take advantage of existing infrastructure and additional land. Talks recently broke down over the issue of finger-printing. The US was insisting on the right to fingerprint travelers who approached the bridge but changed their minds before crossing while Canadian law limits finger-printing to those who agree or who have been charged with a crime.

The Peace Bridge is the 3rd busiest in terms of trade between the two countries and 2nd busiest in vehicle traffic.

Joining the OCC delegation are representatives of the Canadian American Business Council. "This is about how Canada and the US will work together to manage our common border," added Scotty Greenwood, Executive Director of the Canadian American Business Council (CABC). "It's not just one crossing - it's the entire integrated supply chain. In 2004, both governments agreed to pursue smart border management and for DHS to inexplicably walk away is troubling and inconsistent with what the Bush Administration says it wants to do."

The OCC has released two studies detailing the costs of border delays to the US and Canadian economies. The reports show that collectively $13.6 billion is sacrificed every year in lost productivity and if there is no improvement in infrastructure and coordination, the US stands to lose 80,000 jobs and Canada, 70,000 jobs.

"In a world of growing global competitiveness where workers throughout North America wait on tender hooks to learn if their jobs will be outsourced to the burgeoning economies of Asia, the United States and Canada must lessen impediments to trade and productivity - not increase them. We must become a stronger trading bloc," comments Crispino.

Officials from the OCC and the CABC are meeting with numerous officials, including representatives of the Department of State as well as key members of the House and Senate who are responsible for key border issues, and sit on such influential committees such as the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and the Immigration Subcommittee.

The Cost of Border Delays to Ontario and The Cost of Border Delays (U.S.) can be found at www.occ.on.ca

The OCC represents over 57,000 businesses through 160 local Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, and has been Ontario's business advocate since 1911. Its advocacy and policy initiatives focus on six areas key to the economic well-being of the province: health; education; energy; finance & taxation; transportation & infrastructure; and border issues.

The CABC is the voice of business in the world's most prosperous relationship. Established in 1987, the Council is a non-profit, issues-oriented organization dedicated to elevating the private sector perspective on issues that affect our two nations. Our members are key business leaders and stakeholders from both sides of the border. The Council's activities include high-level briefings on issues of current concern, assistance with practical trade and policy challenges, significant networking opportunities, and informative seminars.

Contact Information

  • In Washington:
    Ontario Chamber of Commerce
    Amy Terrill
    Director Media Relations and Communications
    C: (416) 605-8205
    amyterrill@occ.on.ca

    Canadian American Business Council
    Jennifer Morris
    Deputy Director
    W: (202) 496-7421
    jmorris@mckennalong.com

    In Toronto:
    Ontario Chamber of Commerce
    Scott McCammon
    Vice President Communications and Stakeholder Relations
    W: (416) 482-5222 x 228
    scottmccammon@occ.on.ca