Monday, March 2, 2009

Report Says Canada’s Border Too Porous, Cites Nuclear Exports

(The Canadian Press)

Canada’s border agency allows some strategic nuclear and military equipment to leave the country without checking whether rogue countries or terrorists are the buyers, a new report suggests. The finding comes shortly after Prime Minister Stephen Harper assured U.S. President Barack Obama that Canada takes border security seriously.

The internal evaluation found that exporters of strategic equipment that’s subject to strict controls too often file their own paperwork after hours at border crossings – without inspections by the Canada Border Services Agency.

“Exporters continue to have a choice of submitting their export declaration in paper format,” says the document, dated November 2008. “Paper . . . forms are reported at a CBSA-designated export office where exporters use a self-serve stamp machine and reports are left unsecured after-hours at certain offices . ...” “If a declaration was submitted outside the CBSA’s hours of operation, there will have been no verification.”

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, trading nations such as Canada have taken more responsibility for vetting their exports to identify potentially dangerous goods, rather than leaving the problem to importing countries.

Most exporters in Canada file their declarations electronically ahead of shipping, allowing the border agency to better manage inspections and to red-flag suspicious cargo. But about 15% of all exports from Canada are reported on a paper form, which hobbles the inspection process. The United States and the European Union, on the other hand, require all export declarations to be made electronically in advance of shipping.

“The CBSA has yet to develop a plan for implementing mandatory pre-departure electronic reporting of exports,” says the document. The report calls for an end to antiquated paper forms, just as paper forms have been eliminated for import declarations in Canada since 2004. Read more here.