Canada & US Report Progress on Beyond the Border Action Plan

On February 4, the US Chamber of Commerce held a meeting which provided an update on the US/Canada Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Council Action Plans. The meeting featured high level US and Canadian officials including keynote addresses by Boris Bershteyn, Acting Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget and David Moloney, Senior Advisor to the Privy Council, Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Council.  

The meeting followed up on the release by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper of the implementation reports on both Action Plans in December 2012. The original Declaration was issued in February 2011 and the Action Plans were released in December 2011 to promote economic competitiveness and security.

The Beyond the Border Panel included Kevin O’Shea, Assistant Secretary, Beyond the Border Implementation Team, Privy Council Office and Ana Hinojosa, Lead Executive, Beyond the Border Initiative, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  At the outset of the panel, the US Chamber pointed out the World Economic Forum released a study showing that reducing supply chain barriers could increase global GDP by up to six times as much as reducing all import tariffs.

Progress of Airport Related Issues
The Beyond the Border Action Plan mainly is focused on the land border and cargo; e.g. the US and Canada have developed a joint Border Infrastructure Investment Plan.  However, I have summarized below the progress cited by the Beyond the Border Implementation Report and the Chamber of Commerce meeting of most interest to airports. ACI-NA has long advocated for eliminating the requirement to rescreen connecting baggage and for expanding and enhancing NEXUS.

Passengers

  • Began deployment of TSA-certified Explosive Detection Systems at Canadian preclearance airports concurrent with US decision to lift the rescreening requirement of connecting checked baggage.
  • Increased benefits to trusted travelers
    •     Recognized members of NEXUS for expedited passenger pre-board security screening at US and Canadian airports.
    •     Launched NEXUS enrollment blitzes to reduce backlogs and increase membership, waived interview requirement for NEXUS renewals if there is no change in information and low risk status, and undertook joint public outreach to increase awareness of NEXUS.
    •     Extended membership eligibility to US and Canadian citizens who do not reside in the US and Canada.
    •     Developed a plan to incorporate third-country traveler programs into NEXUS.
  • Signed agreement on sharing biographic and biometric visa and immigration information with respect to third country nationals.

Cargo

  • Achieved mutual recognition of air cargo security programs, eliminating the need for rescreening except for cause i.e. if Canada has screened the cargo, the US does not need to duplicate that effort.
  • Developed a common and streamlined set of required data elements for advanced security screening of cargo for all modes of transport to identify issues as early as possible.
  • Developed Integrated Cargo Security Strategy (ICSS) to address risks associated with shipments arriving from offshore based on informed risk management.
  •  Initiated a Canadian pilot on pre-loading of information and targeting of air cargo to test the ICSS.
  • Initiated harmonization of US Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Canada’s Partners in Protection (PIP) programs including aligning and enhancing benefits to trusted traders.
  • Started converting data elements for all departments to electronic format as step on the way to a single window in each country for shippers.
    O’Shea said that Canada hoped to complete its single window by the end of 2013.  It is one of Canada’s highest priorities. Hinojosa commented that Mexico has almost completed a single window for shippers and has been extremely successful. She noted that while the US is fairly far along on the technology front, it is still working on getting all government agencies to give up their hard copies of certificates.
  • Increased and harmonized the level of low value shipments at the higher level of $2500. The low value shipments receive expedited customs clearance benefitting shippers and express carriers.

Preclearance

  • Initiated negotiations for an update to the current preclearance agreement for air passengers. This is mainly focused on reviewing and amending the authorities of the inspecting officers outlined in the Canada/US Air Transport Preclearance Agreement on a reciprocal basis to be comparable to those exercised at airports by officers of the host country i.e. the US seeking to have the same authorities for CBP officers at Canadian preclearance airports as Canadian officers have at Canadian airports. They also started negotiations on preclearance agreements for other modes.

    O’Shea noted that these are difficult issues given the different legal and operational contexts in each country.  The problem areas include operational authorities, withdrawal of service, accountability and protection of officers.

    When asked about the prospect of expanding preclearance to additional Canadian airports, Hinojosa responded that given budget constraints and stretched resources, it would be very difficult to expand.  She stressed that there is interest in CBP staffing at US airports. 
     

  • Established binational port operations committees (including CBP, CBSA, and transport partners) at the eight Canadian preclearance airports in order to improve the management of the flow of travelers and goods.
  • Identified operational impediments to the effectiveness of US preclearance operations in Canada, such as signage and physical layout. They are working on developing solutions.

White House Press Release on Implementation Reports, December 2012
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/14/white-house-releases-report-beyond-border-and-regulatory-cooperation-cou

Beyond the Border Progress Report, 2012 (checklist)
http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/BTB%20Action%20Plan%202012%20Progress%20Report.pdf

Beyond the Border Implementation Report, December 2012
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/btb_implementation_report.pdf

Beyond the Border Joint Action Plan, December 2011
http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/wh/us-canada-btb-action-plan.pdf