White House Announces U.S.-Canada ‘Beyond the Border’ and ‘Regulatory Cooperation Council’ Action Plans
On December 7, 2011, the White House announced details of the Beyond the Border (BTB) (PDF) and Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Action Plans (PDF). The BTB Action plan sets joint priorities between the United States and Canada for achieving a new long-term security partnership, including (1) addressing threats early; (2) promoting trade facilitation, economic growth, and jobs; (3) strengthening cross-border law enforcement; and (4) protecting shared critical infrastructure.
The BTB Executive Steering Committee (ESC) will hold annual meetings to advance shared border management efforts and identify areas for further progress. To ensure continued transparency and accountability, the BTB ESC will generate a joint, public “Beyond the Border Implementation Report” to summarize BTB cooperation annually. Implementation of the BTB Action Plan will be carried out in close consultation with interested stakeholders through appropriate lead agencies and will be subject to normal regulatory, legislative, and appropriations processes.
The BTB Action Plan includes, among other things, developing harmonized commercial passenger and cargo screening processes that will expedite the secure passage of people and goods; enhancing trusted traveler and trader programs “by aligning requirements, enhancing member benefits, and providing applicants with the opportunity to submit one application to be enrolled in multiple programs.” The White House said the U.S. and Canada “strive to facilitate business travel across our border, provide a single “window” for importers to submit information needed to comply with customs and other regulations, promote supply chain connectivity by harmonizing low-value shipment processes, and increase public transparency regarding application of border fees, with a view to providing greater accountability for costs to businesses and promoting trade competitiveness.”
The White House also said it “will enhance and expand the work of the twenty land border Binational Port Operations Committees established in 2011, coordinate our border infrastructure investment at key border crossings and at small and remote ports of entry to, where possible, align hours of operation and co-manage facilities.”
Regarding the RCC Action Plan, the White House said that “greater alignment and better mutual reliance on our regulatory approaches will lead to lower costs for consumers and businesses, create more efficient supply chains, increase trade and investment, generate new export opportunities, and create jobs on both sides of the border.”