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NEWS: Canada-US to proceed with regulatory alignment despite public’s concerns

Bloomberg reports, “The U.S. and Canada plan to harmonize regulations governing the most-heavily traded products, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson said, just days after a report showed some Canadians are uneasy with the idea. The two countries will release more details over the next several weeks on the ‘first tranche’ of industries where conflicting regulations will be harmonized, Jacobson said in an interview with Bloomberg News. He didn’t elaborate on specific products. …The effort will focus on streamlining ‘dumb’ regulations that are ‘different because they’re different,’ said Jacobson…”

“A report on potential regulatory co-operation outlines proposals in industries such as agriculture and food, environment and energy, transportation, and health and consumer products. Proposals in the auto industry would implement common rules for safety and emissions standards. Cooperation on energy may lead to a ‘Canada-U.S. regime for permitting oil-and-gas pipelines,’ the report said. Canada’s customs agency said in June it is looking at ways to speed inspection of food products that are imported by companies that qualify as posing little risk.”

On Tuesday, the Toronto Star had reported, “Individuals, unlike industry, expressed reservations (in the government’s consultation on perimeter security) about increased integration with the U.S., feeling that it could result in ‘the perceived erosion of Canadian sovereignty, rights and public accountability that would accompany heightened regulatory alignment.’” It now appears that despite these widely-voiced concerns, the two governments are prepared to proceed with regulatory alignment.

What kind of ‘regulatory alignment’ are US business groups looking for? In April, Macleans magazine reported that the Beyond the Border consultation in the United States submission have been received from, “Target Corp. …who bemoan conflicting regulations between the US and Canada in areas such as product standards, testing facilities, customs procedures and documentation; …the biotechnology industry association asked that both countries adopt ‘consistent science-based processes that would significantly decrease the time required for authorization of biotech crops and their products’; …several US agricultural groups asked for harmonization of the maximum permissible pesticide residue levels for produce; (and) the US Chamber of Commerce…suggested ‘examining wherever possible what can be done to align health care regulatory frameworks between the US and Canada for medical devices and pharmaceuticals’.”

We’ll have more analysis on the proposals for regulatory harmonization soon.

The Bloomberg report adds, “Jacobson said the countries will soon release an ‘action plan’ that will provide more details on the proposed measures.” It has also been reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama will meet ‘early this fall’ to further the perimeter security talks.