THE BRITISH COLUMBIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PASSED POLICY RESOLUTIONS - 2015
Policies passed at the AGM are available here. These have been updated to reflect amendments made at the AGM. Please note that these are still in draft form and undergo minor editorial changes/clean up before the BC Chamber publishes final versions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS ON BORDER RELATED ISSUES (PDF Format)
BC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BORDER PACT - BEYOND THE BORDER ACTION PLAN
Trade between Canada and the United States currently equates to the movement of approximately $1.6 billion in goods and services per day in addition to which some 300,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border every day. This international trade between our two countries represents tremendous mutual economic benefit and has grown substantially since the enactment of the 'North American Free Trade Agreement'. The new 'Beyond the Border Agreement' endorsed by Canadian Prime Minister Harper and U.S. President Obama makes provision for action plans that are intended to reduce trade barriers through harmonization of the regulatory process, increase mobility and reduce delay while increasing efficiency under enhanced security measures.
There are some flaws within the prevailing border programs relating to the cross-border mobility of people that are deserving of attention within the forthcoming harmonization process - some of which are addressed within the following observations:
(The Observations, And The Complete Text Of This Article, Are Downloadable As A PDF)
These and other examples have been the subject of negative publicity and are the cause for concern, doubt and confusion which has led to significant loss of public confidence. The foregoing corrective undertakings are expected to provide beneficial changes within border programs that will serve to create an increased level of public confidence and acceptability with the view that enhanced greater participation will lead to improved mobility, reduced congestion while advancing the cause of international trade and travel.
THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS
That the Provincial Government work with the Federal Government in conjunction with their United States counterparts to:
1. Address the current existing inequities between regulatory and interpretative aspects of Canada-U.S. border impediments, as demonstrated in the combination of options for consideration and the urging of action with specific suggestions outlined in the Preamble, which negatively impact the legitimate flow of people, goods and services across the Canada/U.S. border and undertake these in conjunction with implementing improvements under the new "Beyond the Border Action Plan".
2. Implement improvements in cross-border transactions to support the principle that people, goods and services are deserving of equitable treatment irrespective of whether the transaction is southbound or northbound across our mutual international borders.
March 02 2012
Following is a copy of the Agreement between Washington State and British Columbia endorsed February 10, 2012 by Governor Christine Gregoire and Premier Christy Clark on regional agreement in relation to the recently enacted U.S.- Canada federal Beyond the Border Action Plan.
YouTube video: "Washington - BC JTEC: Making extraordinary progress towards improving border efficiency"
Local, state and federal officials celebrate new Peace Arch border crossing
PETER JENSEN / THE BELLINGHAM HERALD / Mar, 24, 2011
BLAINE - Construction of the new Peace Arch border crossing spanned a decade, accommodated the millions of travelers who used the crossing during the work and continued unabated throughout the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. And with the $107 million project finally completed, the local, state and federal government officials who gathered outside the new station for a ceremony Wednesday morning, March 23, could be forgiven if they were a little self-congratulatory. The project expanded the number of primary inspection booths from eight to 10, almost doubled the number of secondary inspection booths and replaced a station that was more than three decades old. The expansion of the crossing - the third most-traveled on the northern border of the U.S. - also resulted in the construction of a new overpass on Interstate 5 near the crossing and other major highway work."Today marks the final step in a process that has taken nearly 10 years," said George Northcroft, the regional administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration in the Pacific Northwest. The GSA worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates the crossing, the Federal Highway Administration, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the city of Blaine and agencies in Canada to complete the project.While the project was initially budgeted to cost about $70 million, it incurred additional expenses because excavation work cost more than expected and because crews had to build an overpass for I-5.The facility's site is restricted on three sides by the city of Blaine, Semiahmoo Bay and Peace Arch State Park. Thus, the only way the expansion could occur would be to excavate a hillside, and the dirt was a lot more difficult to remove than initially expected. Crews had to build the new overpass to accommodate Customs' need to expand the number of lanes from eight to 10. The project received $26.9 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Congress passed in 2009 to stimulate the economy.Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin spoke at the ceremony and expressed his wish that the new facility will enhance his agency's ability to keep America secure while fostering greater commercial relationships with Canada. "The 21st century offers greater challenges to our countries," Bersin said. "We have to grow closer. This is a special celebration. It represents a new collaboration."Reach PETER JENSEN at email@example.com or call 360-715-2264.A PDF of this article is available here.
January 2, 2008
Cross Border Organization Supports Public Pressure to Improve NEXUS.
The Pacific Corridor Enterprise Council (PACE) was formed in 1989 as a non-profit, business organization to promote cross-border transactions and advocate the removal of barriers that impede the legitimate flow of people, goods and services across the Canada/USA border.
With the recent flood of NEXUS applications, both new and renewals, the bi-nationally managed low risk border crossing program has shown areas for improvement.
1. NEXUS needs an appeals process. The Blaine district used to have an ad hoc appeals process operated by local senior DHS officers. The procedure worked and was an example of local solutions to a national program. This has been discontinued in favor of a CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman US Customs and Border Protection at distant Williston, Vermont. The CBP Ombudsman office has no appeals mandate.
2. NEXUS needs a very clear set of rules. NEXUS is clear about its zero tolerance policy, however, zero tolerance without clear rules is arbitrary and unfair.
PACE dedicated a portion of its website to NEXUS issues including a forum for NEXUS aggrieved parties to share information. The intent of PACE is to advance the cause of improvements to NEXUS via forums and panel discussions with subsequent advocacy to responsible government officials.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Alex Glass
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 (202) 224-2834
Senate Approves Amendment to Delay Border-Crossing Requirements
Legislation co-sponsored by Murray would postpone PASS Card system for 17 months
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan amendment to immigration legislation that would delay implementation of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) passport requirements by 17 months. U.S. Senator Patty Murray – who has repeatedly urged the Bush Administration to delay the passport requirements cosponsored the amendment.
"I want to make sure that the steps we take will actually improve security with minimal delays and burdens for citizens and commerce," Senator Murray said. "We need to ensure that federal agencies are prepared to implement this program with minimal disruption to commerce, tourism and travel."
WHTI requires people crossing the border into the United States to show a passport or other approved document starting December 31, 2006 for passengers entering the U.S. by air or sea, and by December 31, 2007 for land border crossings.
The amendment which passed the Senate today by voice vote would delay implementation of the PASS card requirements for 17 months, to June 1, 2009.
On March 24th, Murray and Representative Rick Larsen hosted a forum in Bellingham with representatives from the Departments of State and Homeland Security to give Northern Border communities the opportunity to express their concerns that the new rules could hurt state commerce without actually improving security.
"The most important job of our government is to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. But as we implement this plan, we need to remember that the economy of our border states depends on fluid cross-border travel," Murray said. "That´s why our federal agencies, local businesses and communities need more time to get this right."
For years, Murray has advocated for increased staffing at the Northern Border. Immediately after September 11th, as a member of the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Subcommittee, Murray helped craft a provision in the Appropriations bill to require at least 25 percent of all new Border Patrol agents and INS inspection staff to go to the Northern Border, and to boost Customs staffing levels by $25 million.
Passport plan will hurt U.S., Canada
Jim Bradley Special to The Star 14 October 2005 The Toronto Star Copyright (c) 2005 The Toronto Star
Unless it gets fixed, by 2008 all Canadians - and all returning American citizens - will need a passport to enter the United States.
The authors of the passport requirement were correctly thinking about border security. But their proposal threatens to cause so much unintended economic damage that we should all step back and rethink this idea.
Since 9/11, Canadians have shared American concerns about securing North America from terrorist attack, and have been working with the U.S. to make our common border more secure.
Ontario officials have met with their counterparts in New York, Michigan and Ohio to confer on border security issues. Canada has allocated $7.7 billion to bolster anti-terrorism efforts, including increasing the number of Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET) from five to 14. IBETs are binational intelligence-driven law enforcement teams that target terrorists, as well as gunrunners and drug smugglers.
The question is: What more can be done to help us achieve the secure borders we all want, in a way that encourages the free-flowing two-way traffic that nurtures prosperity and preserves the personal liberty that is so precious to both our nations?
We have to get the answer right, because there is much at stake. Only 35 per cent of Canadian residents and 25 per cent of American residents currently hold passports. At a cost of about $100 per passport, the plan would be a major hurdle to cross-border travel, especially for families.
We estimate that the proposed policy could suppress American visits to Canada by more than 12 per cent by 2008. In Ontario alone, the potential loss is $570 million U.S. and 7,000 jobs. Even talk of a pending change is proving a strong negative motivator; more Americans stayed home this summer than in past years.
Quebec, the Maritimes and British Columbia would also feel the impact on their already shrinking tourism business from south of the border.
The American economy has as much to lose from the passport requirement as Canada does.
Last year, 35.9 million Canadians visited the U.S. and put $11.7 billion into American tourism industry cash registers. That is $2.1 billion more than Americans spent in Canada that year.
The proposed passport barrier would greatly diminish the lucrative traffic of Canadian visitors to border states for everything from Buffalo Bills, Detroit Pistons and Seattle Mariners games, to fine Italian restaurants in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Little League tournaments in Maine, and shopping safaris or sightseeing trips.
Parents, coaches and young athletes who participate in amateur sports tournaments, to the benefit of host communities, would also face daunting obstacles to maintaining these friendly cross-border competitions.
The passport proposal would have a debilitating impact on golf courses, restaurants, hotels and resorts in tourist spots such as Myrtle Beach, S.C., and the states of Virginia and Florida, where Canadian snowbirds can be the difference between breaking even and making a profit. The risks to all concerned are clear.
That is why N.Y. Senator Hillary Clinton called the passport requirement "ill-advised." She stated flatly, "It would be an economic disaster and would disrupt the flow of goods, services and personal relationships across the border."
That sums up the problem. What is the solution? Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has proposed adapting drivers' licences for border purposes.
To its credit, the U.S. homeland security department is willing to discuss the possibility of using alternative secure documents for entry into America. This is where the Ontario government feels it can make a difference, through discussions with elected representatives and industry leaders from both sides of the border.
I am confident we can find a secure, yet readily available document that all can carry and continue to enjoy their traditional close ties.
Jim Bradley is Ontario's tourism minister.
Subject: [washington] 100 percent ID verifications slowing border
100 percent ID verifications slowing border
By Meg Olson The Northern Light July 7, 2005
If things seem to be going a little slower at the border, if the line coming into the United States seems longer than you're used to, you could try asking an inspector why. Chances are you'll get a little grumbling about a new national policy directing inspectors to check the identification of every traveler against national security databases.
"It's stupid," said a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector at the Pacific Highway port of entry. "It just slows traffic down when we have to process people we know." Some inspectors said they felt enhanced identification checks should be up to the individual inspector rather than dictated by policy. "We're trained so why don't they leave it to our discretion?" said another truck crossing inspector. "Why waste my time on you when I should be spending it on suspicious travelers?" All inspectors contacted would only discuss the policy they said was put into effect by a recent memo, on condition their names not be published. CBP public information officer Mike Milne said the contents of the memo announcing the policy change, or even its existence, was "internal policy" and would not be made public.
Tom Hardy, CBP director of field operations for 65 ports of entry on the northwest border, told a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Rick Larsen in Bellingham July 6 "the traveling public has to become a little more mature about what is going on at the border. We are not going to simply query your license plate and let you into our country. We have to have some reasonable validity you are who you are." He added if people crossing the border knew to have photo identification and proof of citizenship ready to hand the inspector it would significantly speed up inspection times.
Milne said that "enhanced identification checking" was part of his department's efforts to continually upgrade security at land borders. "We're doing more of what we've always done, trying to utilize all our capabilities," he said. "We feel the identification of individuals in a vehicle is the best possible way to identify potential terrorists."
Hardy said the new policy directed CBP officers managers to take advantage of all resources available. "If you've got a system, use it," he said.
Milne also said there was not a policy to check every traveler all the time. "We pulse it, we vary it," he said. "They're doing it when we think it's necessary and they can do it without impacting the line." Gordon Rogers with the Whatcom County Council of Governments is not so sure that it's working that way. Returning from an event at the United States Consulate in Vancouver last week Rogers said he was struck first by extra lanes open on the east side of the Peace Arch port of entry, but then by a marked increase in the time it took inspectors to process each vehicle, entering data into computer terminals.
Milne said the enhanced inspection increased the average time to inspect one vehicle and its occupants by 50 to 70 percent. "We average about one minute per vehicle on primary," he said. "When we do additional identification checks, it adds 30 to 40 seconds."
Rogers wondered how the enhanced identification checks and resulting increased delay fit into the framework established under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America, signed by President George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin March 23, 2005. The accord is a commitment to "make our open societies safer and more secure, our businesses more competitive, and our economies more resilient," which Rogers said depends on border practices which do not "unduly impede legitimate travel and trade."
Hardy said "every time any of my bosses talk security, they talk facilitation." The SPP was one of a number of initiatives his department would be implementing. "We're looking at wait times and how to do things faster," he said. He indicated the memo his department was not releasing listed December 2005 as a target date to install passport document readers in primary booths which could speed up identification checks in the inspection lane.
Larsen said the next few years would see continual change at the border: The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires all travelers to have passports by 2008; the US-VISIT program now being implemented will require entry and exit records of all visitors; in 2010 the Olympics coming to Vancouver will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area and significant highway and border infrastructure projects are scheduled between now and then.
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