US, Canada Make New Border Agreement

The much anticipated new perimeter and security agreement was announced today by Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama. Mr. Harper is quoted as saying, “These agreements represent the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

The “Beyond The Border” deal promises to lessen border wait times; better facilitate commercial traffic; and increase the sharing of information between the nations for security purposes. The agreement also eliminates double screening of baggage when traveling between the countries, and commits the two nations to better align trusted traveler programs.

In coming to agreement, Canada has essentially allowed for some information sharing regarding its residents, in exchange for specific efforts by the U.S. to enhance cross-border trade.  The extent of the sharing of information between the countries is still a bit up in the air.  This was the biggest issue in negotiations, particularly for Canadians, many of whom are resistant to information sharing, as a matter of privacy and national sovereignty.

The U.S. and Canada conducted approximately $645 billion in trade in 2010, with Canadians making approximately 40 million trips to the U.S.  It is the hope of both nations that these numbers will increase, when the deal’s measures take effect.  The deal calls for various programs to be implemented during the next few years, with many set deadlines.