Canadian and U.S. business groups have joined forces to propose ways to smooth traffic across a border they complain is getting "thicker, stickier and more costly,” CBC News reports.
“We urgently need to find ways to reduce costs for legitimate cargo and travellers," Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty said in a statement.
Beatty's organization and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently issued a 28-page report backed by more than 40 groups representing interests as diverse as American trucking executives and Canadian wine makers.
"This report recognizes and fully embraces post-9/11 security realities," it said, but "we also believe that we can keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade."
More than six years after the attacks on New York and Washington, border snarls have not been untangled and costs are near breaking point, the report said.
According to CBC, three-hour delays were not uncommon even at some border crossings not known for extensive wait times. Yet during 2007, at Ontario–U.S. land crossings, the volume of commercial and passenger vehicles was down almost four percent.
Among other recommendations:
-- Canada and the United States should ensure that rail and truck cargo inspected, cleared and secured at a Canadian port is not subject to further inspections at the U.S. border.
-- The two countries should let carriers without dedicated cross-border truck fleets have a pool of FAST transponders they can assign to vehicles as needed.
-- The U.S. government should immediately waive its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) fees for all participants in trusted shipper programs such as C-TPAT and FAST.
-- Border agencies on both sides should make a priority of offering full 24-hour service at all major crossings, ensuring that border booths, secondary inspections and border-related support services operate around the clock, seven days a week.