Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Border Rules Could Gum up Flow of Trade

(Barrie McKenna — Globe & Mail)

The fuss over the Buy American provision in the monster U.S. stimulus package has faded a bit, but not Canadian fears about protectionism.

Just ask David Bradley, chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. The chief lobbyist for Canada’s trucking industry is always on the lookout for new rules and legislation that could gum up the flow of trade across the Canada-U.S. border.

And these days, he doesn’t have to look very far.

His latest headache is the innocuously named Our Nation’s Trade Infrastructure, Mobility and Efficiency Act of 2009 – ON TIME for short.

The bill, co-sponsored by California Republican Ken Calvert and Illinois Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., would slap a levy on every shipment in – and out – of the United States to help pay for “transportation trade corridors” – roads, ports and the like. The fee would be set at 0.075 per cent of the market value of all traded goods, up to a maximum of $500 (U.S.) a shipment.

The bill would raise as much as $5-billion a year for infrastructure projects.

Based on Canada’s historic share of two-way trade, Canadian importers and exporters would have to pay roughly 20 per cent of those fees. (In 2008, Canada accounted for 18 per cent of U.S. imports and 20 per cent of U.S. exports).

It’s too early to tell whether the legislation has momentum. It’s been sent to the ways and means and foreign affairs committees in the U.S. House of Representatives for further study. Many pieces of legislation die in committee. Read more here.