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NEWS: The rush for perimeter security, regulatory harmonization

Simon Kennedy

Simon Kennedy

Maclean‘s reports today that, “With the Harper government winning a majority, expect a sense of urgency on moving ahead with the perimeter security and regulatory harmonization talks with the US. Harper campaigned on this issue and is being warned that the window to move ahead is closing as the presidential campaign cycle draws nearer.”

An earlier article in Maclean’s notes that the US Department of Commerce received thirty submissions “after asking for public comments on ‘regulatory co-operation that would help eliminate or reduce unnecessary regulatory divergences in North America that disrupt US exports’.” The magazine reports that submissions 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’.”

“In Canada, the job of wading through proposals on border management falls to the Beyond the Border Working Group, composed of bureaucrats from several government departments including Industry, Public Safety, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and Transport. (The border management group) is chaired by Simon Kennedy, the senior associate deputy minister at Industry. …The (regulatory cooperation) effort is led by Bob Hamilton, associate deputy minister at the Treasury Board Secretariat. …Submissions to the Canadian group have not been released publicly (as the Americans have done). However, officials are working on a report that will be made available online summarizing the input they receive. …The government working groups were expected to make their recommendations within four months (of the meeting between Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama in February), but the process in Canada was suspended during the election campaign.”

Birgit Matthiesen, the Washington-based adviser on US government relations to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters association, said business groups hope the process groups will be back on the front burner after the election is over, and that Washington and Ottawa re-engage quickly. ‘We anticipate that there will be a leaders’ meeting soon afterwards,’ Matthiesen said. …Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat to the US (has) warned Ottawa that the governments have a year until presidential politics take over, and with it, a reluctance to talk trade. ‘The American election cycle will effectively shut down the process in January (eight months from now) with the onset of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries,’ he said.”

The full Maclean‘s article is at