A Commentary on Borders: Idle Time

By August 22, 2007Trade

NAM President and CEO John Engler and his counterpart from north of the border, Jayson Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, have an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, Idle Time (subscription required):

North America’s manufacturers lead the world in technology, innovation and productivity. Unfortunately, we are seeing these competitive advantages being lost due to ever-increasing regulations and inefficient border-processing requirements. Efficient borders are especially important given the highly integrated North American industrial base, particularly between Canada and the United States. On an average day, more than 18,000 commercial trucks enter the United States from Canada — back to back, these trucks would stretch from Detroit to Chicago.

These trucks bring consumer products and manufactured goods, parts for U.S. auto plants, agricultural products for food processors and newsprint for newspapers like this one. Manufacturers have developed highly integrated production systems across the border, contributing to the million dollars of business our countries do every minute of every day.

That trade is getting bogged down. With the additional security measures implemented since the 2001 terrorist attacks, vehicle processing times have doubled at the border, resulting in an additional $4 billion in costs to business. Regulations adopted for various reasonable purposes add further burdens. These non-production costs not only come from trucks idling at the border, but also from more time processing paperwork and entering data, a lack of consistent standards at different border crossings and increased border inspections. Manufacturers whose profits depend on just-in-time production find it increasingly difficult to manage these delays and remain globally competitive.

Meanwhile, here’s the news release from the Canadian Manufactuers & Exporters.

CME welcomes the priority that was placed on enhancing North America’s global competitiveness, ensuring the safety of products entering North America and facilitating the safe and secure movement of goods and people. The announcement of a new Regulatory Cooperation Framework is a positive step towards reducing business costs on the continent and strengthening North America’s competitiveness. CME also hopes that greater cooperation on product safety will be a basis on which to build a perimeter approach to product standards. “Adopting a perimeter approach to product safety should ultimately allow our countries to focus resources at inspecting products entering our continent rather than at the Canada-U.S. border”, says Myers.

“With these meetings now over, everyone’s priority should be to take action and follow up on those declarations”, adds Myers.

And the CBC story:

The leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico ended a two-day summit in Quebec Tuesday with a pledge to crack down on unsafe goods flowing into North America, while working to make the two borders more efficient and secure.

Leave a Reply