FORT ERIE, Ont.-- After years of negotiations between the governments of Canada and the United States, the two countries are taking the first step towards what might eventually lead to land pre-clearance for trucks at certain border crossings.
Today’s announcement by Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Steven Blaney and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, signaled the launch of a one year pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge.
The commitment to conduct a pre-inspection pilot was contained in the Beyond the Border Action Plan. Its intention is to determine whether the cross-border movement of trucks would be facilitated at certain crossings by having border officials from the country of entry conduct pre-inspections of trucks on the other side of the border. It is believed that such an initiative could be of particular benefit at land crossings where geographic factors and other issues constrain the ability to conduct efficient inspections on one side of the border or another.
During the pilot, US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officers will pre-inspect trucks entering the United States on the Canadian side in the hopes of avoiding backups on the bridge due to the size constraints of the customs plaza on the Buffalo side. The project, which creates two new booths on the Canadian side to house CBP officials, is being funded by the Peace Bridge Authority.
After being processed on the Canadian side, trucks that take part in the pilot will proceed across the bridge where it is anticipated they will come to a rolling stop at a USCBP “exit” booth. If the process goes smoothly, they will be given a green light signalling they are free to proceed through the customs plaza en route to their destination. A red light instead signals the truck must be brought to a complete stop for further processing.
“The trucking industry has a keen interest in facilitating the shipment of goods across the Canada-US border while maintaining security,” Canadian Trucking Alliance president David Bradley said at the announcement today. “The Peace Bridge pilot is indicative of innovative new thinking and its outcome is therefore of great importance to us and to the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship.”
CTA says the pilot’s measured success will essentially depend on whether the two stops (albeit one being a rolling stop), compared to the current one-stop, will actually speed the flow of trucks across the border and maintain advantages for carriers and drivers operating under the trusted trader program, Free and Secure Trade (FAST).
CTA has received assurances the pilot is adequately resourced and that strategic management of traffic queues will ensure the pre-inspection process will not contribute to delays.
“Everyone wants the pilot to be a success,” says Bradley. “But if things don’t go as planned, or there are some unintended consequences, it is important that the protocols are in place to take the necessary corrective action on a timely basis and in communication with industry.”