Thursday, April 30, 2009

U.S. Stimulus Stifling Canada

(John Ivison — National Post)

”Buy America” rule boils down to protectionism

When Barack Obama came to Ottawa in February, Canadians lowered their defences and surrendered, seduced by the new President’s promises that the United States would stand by its international trade obligations and resist protectionism.

It was an object lesson in why politicians should be judged on results, not their intentions.

The reality is that Canada and the United States are engaging in skirmishes that threaten to erupt into an all-out trade war.

John Hayward runs an industrial equipment company, Hayward Gordon, in Halton Hills, Ont., but is in the process of transferring some of his company’s manufacturing capacity to the United States from Canada, with the loss of Canadian jobs, because he is being shut out of the American market by President Obama’s stimulus bill.

“It boils down to the fact a very large number of Canadian companies, who have been competing in the U. S. for decades, have been told overnight that they can’t sell to the U. S.,” he said. Read more here.

Trade: Will U.S. Notice If We Look the Other Way?

(Bogdan Kipling — Chronicle Herald)

Half a year ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper saw a “historic” start in relations between Canada and the European Union. His Quebec City setting was perfect and the occasion was not overstated one bit. Mr. Harper was flanked by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Jose Manuel Barosso, president of the European Union, as he announced that Canada and the 27 member countries of the EU had a “comprehensive” economic partnership in the works.

Mr. Harper’s statement got little attention in Canada and none in the United States. Three days earlier, Canadians gave the Tories a fresh mandate and Canada’s commentariat was preoccupied with the “what does it mean?” question. Here in Washington, the silence was pretty overwhelming.

Canada fared better, by a whisker, on Tuesday. The Washington Times had a brief story in its “Briefly” roundup of news from the Americas. The Canada item carried the headline “Trade talks begin with EU” and Reuters mentions it in a story about International Trade Minister Stockwell Day’s visit in Washington.

Am I surprised? Heck, no. Canada gets little mention in the American media at the best of times, and right now American papers and TV are full of President Barack Obama’s “First Hundred Days” – in special sections yet. Read more here.

Unnecessary Security on the US-Canada Border?

(Sandro Contenta — GlobalPost)

The US Homeland Security Secretary causes a ruckus up north.

Desidero Fortunato is a Canadian citizen who regularly visits his second home in Blaine, Wash., crossing the border by car two or three times a week.

Last month, a U.S. border guard — who apparently had no cause for suspicion — ordered him to shut off his engine and get out of the car.

The Canadian penchant for politeness can, admittedly, be irritating. But the 54-year-old competitive dancer got more than he bargained for when he asked the guard to say, “please.” First came a blast of pepper spray in the face. Then a handful of guards threw him to the ground, pinned him with their knees and slapped on handcuffs.

Fortunato says the tense interrogation that followed eased only when the guards learned he was born in Portugal. [...]

In the end, Canada has little choice but to acquiesce to the thickening border. Its economic future, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement, relies on access to the American market. A loss of political sovereignty is the price of admission. Today it’s border security, tomorrow it will likely be changes to our immigration policies, which Napolitano has made clear are too lax. Read more here.

Union Predicts Delays as Canada Border Services Imposes Cutbacks

(CBC News)

The Canada Border Services Agency is cutting back on overtime staffing across the country just as the United States is increasing its border security measures, sparking concerns among Canadian employees.

The move will mean certain delays for people entering Canada, the union representing border workers said Wednesday.

“The public can certainly expect a longer waiting time to get through,” said Jean-Pierre Fortin, vice-president of the Customs and Immigration Union.

The agency has cut back on its staffing budget, meaning workers at land and airport border control points will no longer be allowed to work overtime during peak periods. […]

In an email to CBC News, the border agency said overtime hours are being reduced in order to manage resources more efficiently. [...]

But Fortin said the union fears border security will be jeopardized. Under one money management measure, for example, guards will stop using gamma ray imaging to scan the contents of trucks, containers and other cargo, which he said will impact “the security of this country.” Read more here.

Restoring Balance

(Export Development Canada – Peter G. Hall)

History-making. That’s likely how the current economy will be sized up when the books are written. There are few episodes in the post-war period where market drama has been as intense. And with forecasts in freefall, getting a proper fix on the economic fallout is a huge challenge.

The shock isn’t just media hyperbole. What is unfolding is notable both for its severity and timing. Already in recession, industrialized economies took an unthinkable and sustained hit to GDP in the past six months. Globalization ensured that declines were remarkably synchronized the world over. Trade activity seized up over that period, and remains shaky. Weary of negative news, analysts the world over are scanning monthly data for the faintest signs that we have hit bottom.

Why is the impact so severe? The world economy is struggling to right super-sized imbalances, created at the end of an unusually long period of expansion. For five years, activity was well in excess of fundamental demand, a process spurred on by loose lending. Excesses may have begun in single economies, but they spread everywhere in the form of outsized trade, production and consumption. Such excesses, when realized, are rarely dealt with gently; the current sharp contraction, simply put, is proportional to the vast excesses that preceded it, but much swifter. Read more or watch the video here

New Free Trade Agreement Opens Doors for Canadian Business in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

(Minister of International Trade)

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, announced today that the free trade agreement (FTA) with the states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – has received Royal Assent. The agreement is on track to come into effect on July 1, 2009.

“Trade is extremely important to Canada’s continued prosperity,” said Minister Day.

“Implementing this agreement – the first free trade agreement Canada has ever completed with European countries – will open more doors for Canadian producers and exporters by increasing their access to the wealthy and sophisticated EFTA markets.”

Canada’s producers and exporters will benefit immediately from the elimination of duties on all Canadian non-agricultural merchandise exports upon entry into force of the FTA. Tariffs will also be eliminated or reduced on selected Canadian agricultural exports such as durum wheat, frozen french fries, beer and crude canola oil. As well, Canadian companies will be able to access innovative technologies and other inputs from EFTA markets at lower costs, including through the importation of machinery and scientific and precision instruments.

“This agreement will provide not only a strategic opportunity for Canadian companies to tap directly into EFTA value chains, but also indirect access to the European Union,” said Minister Day. “The Government of Canada is committed to opening up new markets for Canadian business and expanding existing ones. During this period of extraordinary global economic challenges and uncertainty, it is more important than ever that we pursue international trade opportunities.”

Together, the EFTA countries were Canada’s seventh-largest merchandise export destination in 2008. Canada exported $4.2 billion in merchandise to the EFTA countries in 2008, with two-way merchandise trade valued at $13.2 billion.

Legislative Update: Groundwork Being Laid for Actions Later This Year

(World Trade Interactive)

Congress has returned from its Easter recess and is preparing to take up a number of trade-related measures in the coming months. A customs reauthorization bill is expected sooner rather than later, while work on the miscellaneous trade bill and preference program reform is continuing to proceed. There are also indications that legislation to implement the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement could be sent up to Capitol Hill in the near future. Read more here.

U.S. Resists Border Measures for Swine Flu, Wants Import Bans Lifted

(World Trade Interactive)

More countries have imposed import restrictions this week due to concerns about the spread of the H1N1 strain of influenza. U.S. officials, however, have decried such moves and said they have no intention of imposing border measures of their own at this point.

According to press reports, a growing number of countries have taken steps to restrict pork imports to date. Russia has banned imports of various pork products from a handful of U.S. states as well as Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador. China is prohibiting pork imports from Mexico and at least three U.S. states. The United Arab Emirates and Suriname have banned all pork imports, while Thailand, Indonesia, Ukraine and Honduras have blocked some or all pork from the U.S. specifically. Restrictions have also been imposed by Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

U.S. officials, however, have said such measures are unnecessary and may violated global trade rules. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pointed out that what has been called “swine flu” is in fact a virus that affects humans and has not been detected in pigs. Read more here.

Webinar May 7: Changes in the FDA Prior Notice Final Rule – from the FDA Perspective

NCBFAA Educational Institute
Thursday, May 7, 2009, Noon - 1:30 p.m. ET
Cost: $50.00 per member or non-member participant
1.5 CCS points for attendance
Presented by: FDA
Moderator: Cynthia Allen, Director, NCBFAA Educational Institute

The FDA Prior Notice Final Rule, published November 7, 2008, in the Federal Register, takes effect May 6, 2009. The Final Rule contains significant changes from the Interim Final Rule under which the trade and FDA have been operating.

During the webinar, FDA representatives will address the changes from an operational and regulatory perspective. Compliance with the Final Rule from an automated perspective will be a challenge, as it is anticipated that the changes required in the Customs and Border Protection’s Automated Commercial System (ACS) system will not be complete. The FDA will outline methods to comply with the Final Rule until such changes can be made in ACS.

This is your opportunity to ask the FDA representatives questions about these rule changes and any other FDA import issues.

To participate, go to and select “Changes in the FDA Prior Notice Final Rule” under “Upcoming Events.”

Security at Canadian Border Catches More Confusion than Terror Suspects

(Lucy Benz-Rogers —

When the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency was created in 2003, its purpose was to provide immigration and counter-terrorism enforcement to prevent future attacks on the U.S. Six years later, the efficacy of the CBP along the U.S. border with Canada is being questioned, as officers arrest migrant families and marijuana users instead of the intended terrorist targets.

Before the September 11 attacks, 340 border patrol agents were assigned to oversee the Canadian border, a number that has since increased to 1,530. Along with this increase have come more frequent roadside checkpoints and patrols, and a doubling of the agency’s budget over the past five years to a total of $11 billion for 2009. There were roughly 75,000 apprehensions along the northern border between 2004 and 2006 that were sent to immigration courts, but only two were terrorism-related.

While the agency certainly does have a strong presence, some feel that it has strayed too far from its original purpose and is more of a burden than anything else. Read more here.

Related: Heightened security at U.S.-Canada border catching few terror suspects (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

U.S. Protectionism a Threat to North America: Stockwell Day

(Sheldon Alberts — Canwest News Service)

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day on Tuesday warned that rising protectionism in the United States threatens to trigger retaliatory measures in Canada, with “cascading effects” on both economies as North America tries to emerge from recession.

Following two days of meetings with senior members of the Obama administration in the U.S., Mr. Day said there are growing fears that ‘Buy American’ provisions in U.S. economic stimulus legislation will prevent Canadian businesses from having the chance to bid on U.S. infrastructure projects.

“There are provisions being put in place which are effectively closing the door to procurement from Canadian companies, suppliers and producers,” Mr. Day said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It is a textbook case of how when doors begin to close, and when trade barriers go up, economies go down.” Read more here.

Vancouver Port to Stay Open Despite Strike

(Journal of Commerce Online – Courtney Tower)

Driver dispute involves trucking companies, not port

Port Metro Vancouver said it will remain open for business whether or not some local container truck drivers go on strike next week. And if any picket port property, they will lose their permits to serve the port, the Port Authority said.

A statement on the Port Authority’s Web site Tuesday refers to a Journal of Commerce Newswire report Monday that 140 owner-operators working for two trucking companies had voted in favor of a possible strike as soon as Monday, May 4, since contract talks with the companies had broken off. The story quoted Stu Shields, national representative in Vancouver of Canadian Auto Workers union Local 2006. Read more here.

Swine Flu: Lessons from SARS

(Business Week – Pete Engardio)

The SARS outbreak showed how quickly industry can get slammed. But fears of widespread trade devastation are probably overblown

Narayanan Viswanathan knows firsthand not to underestimate the economic impact of a potential pandemic such as the swine flu outbreak that has been spreading from Mexico. Viswanathan was in Taiwan as manager of a software development project for carmaker China Motor in spring 2003 when word first spread that an outbreak of a deadly, unknown virus dubbed severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was striking victims in East Asia.

It took just three weeks for much of Asia’s economy to simply shut down. Airlines canceled 40% of their flights in and out of cities like Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, and Shanghai. Major conferences were called off. Luxury hotels and shopping malls were empty. And the legendary Canton Trade Fair in Guangzhou that April was a complete bust. Viswanathan, who was engaged to be married, flew back to India on China Airlines along with other Indian technicians working on the job, which they finished from Bangalore. Read more here.

Swine Flu: Lessons from SARS

(Business Week – Pete Engardio)

The SARS outbreak showed how quickly industry can get slammed. But fears of widespread trade devastation are probably overblown

Narayanan Viswanathan knows firsthand not to underestimate the economic impact of a potential pandemic such as the swine flu outbreak that has been spreading from Mexico. Viswanathan was in Taiwan as manager of a software development project for carmaker China Motor in spring 2003 when word first spread that an outbreak of a deadly, unknown virus dubbed severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was striking victims in East Asia.

It took just three weeks for much of Asia’s economy to simply shut down. Airlines canceled 40% of their flights in and out of cities like Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, and Shanghai. Major conferences were called off. Luxury hotels and shopping malls were empty. And the legendary Canton Trade Fair in Guangzhou that April was a complete bust. Viswanathan, who was engaged to be married, flew back to India on China Airlines along with other Indian technicians working on the job, which they finished from Bangalore. Read more here.

Support for Free Trade Recovers Despite Recession

(Pew Group)

Despite the economic recession, public support for free trade agreements has recovered after declining a year ago. Currently, 44% say that free trade agreements like NAFTA and the policies of the World Trade Organization are good for the country, up from 35% a year ago. Slightly more than a third (35%) say that such agreements and policies are bad for the country, down from 48% in April 2008.

The current balance of opinion is more in line with long-term trends when compared with the April 2008 measure. Last year marked the first time in a measure dating to 1997 that a plurality viewed free trade agreements and policies negatively. The current measure is identical to December 2006 and comparable with opinions in 2005 and 2004. Support for NAFTA and other free trade agreements in policies peaked at 49% in early September 2001; at that time, 29% said they were bad for the country.

Other recent national surveys also have found increases in support for foreign trade over the past year. In a survey conducted April 3-5 by CNN/Opinion Research Corp., 56% said they viewed foreign trade “more as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports,” while 40% said they viewed foreign trade as “a threat to the economy from foreign imports.” In June 2008, a narrow majority (51%) said that foreign trade represented more of a threat rather than an opportunity for the U.S. economy.

Read the complete overview, with statistical tables here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Napolitano Piling Up the Mistakes

(Jack Kelly — Real Clear Politics)

“Can somebody please tell us how U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job?” asked Canada’s National Post in an editorial April 22. “She appears to be about as knowledgeable about border issues as a late night radio call-in yahoo.”

The National Post’s question was triggered by an interview Ms. Napolitano gave to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) April 20, in which she claimed some of the 9/11 hijackers entered the U.S. through Canada. (All 19 came directly to the United States.) A few weeks earlier, in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Ms. Napolitano said: “One of the things that we need to be sensitive to is the very real feelings among southern border states and in Mexico that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border.” […]

Ms. Napolitano was governor of Arizona when President Obama chose her to head DHS. She had no discernable qualifications for the job, and has demonstrated repeatedly she lacks the judgment for such an important and sensitive post. Read more here.

Canada Calls “Unfair” a U.S. Tax Break to Paper Makers

(Reuters – Roberta Rampton)

A U.S. tax break being used by paper manufacturers who use a “black liquor” byproduct to fuel their plants is unfair and should be stopped, Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day said Tuesday.

Paper makers have claimed $7 billion in tax credits by using a loophole in a U.S. law designed to boost biofuel use, Day said in an interview with Reuters financial television.

Paper manufacturers create a byproduct called black liquor when they process wood into pulp for making paper. They have long used the byproduct for fuel in their mills. By blending the byproduct with diesel, the companies have tapped into a tax credit which one lawmaker called a “lifeline” to mills hit hard by the recession. Read more here.

Canada Revives WTO Complaint on U.S. Meat Label Law

(Reuters – Roberta Rampton & Doug Palmer)

Canada has revived a complaint at the World Trade Organization about a U.S. meat labeling law that Canadian producers have complained has hurt their hog and cattle sales, Canada’s Trade Minister Stockwell Day said on Monday.

Canada has complained a new mandatory rule that meat packers include the country of origin of their products on labels has curbed sales of Canadian livestock because of added costs for U.S. packers, hurting prices for Canadian producers.

“I’ve informed Ambassador (Ron) Kirk that we will move forward with the (WTO) consultation,” Day said, noting the complaint will move into a 60-day consultation period. “By giving formal notification of a consultation period, it says, ‘We think this is off-side and we want the consultation period to begin,’” he told reporters after meeting Kirk.

Canada normally exports about C$4 billion ($3.28 billion) a year of hogs and cattle to the United States. Read more here.

New Senate Bill Would Require Origin Disclosure for “Conflict Minerals”

(World Trade Interactive)

Legislation introduced April 24 in the Senate would require U.S.-registered companies selling products using columbite-tantalite, cassiterite or wolframite (or derivatives thereof) to annually disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission the country of origin of those minerals. Metals derived from these minerals are used in common technological products such as mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras.

According to a joint press release from sponsors Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., the Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in lucrative natural resources such as cassiterite (tin), columbite-tantalite or coltan (tantalum), wolframite (tungsten) and gold. These metals can be “inhumanely mined,” the press release states, and profits from selling them are often used to finance armed groups in the region, which has been “devastated by civil war, widespread human rights abuses and a humanitarian crisis that has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 5.4 million people.” Read more here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ridiculing US Official Just Made Your Border Wait Longer

(Edward Alden — The Tyee)

We overreacted to Napolitano’s gaffe. Why we’ll pay for it.

After years of frustration dealing with the George W. Bush administration over the tightening of the border, Canadian officials were hoping for better under President Barack Obama. It does not appear to be working out quite as planned.

Obama’s homeland security secretary, former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, caused a furor last week when she suggested in a CBC interview that some of the 9-11 terrorists had entered the United States from Canada, and therefore stricter border measures were necessary. The statement threw the Canadian government and media into apoplexy. It seemed to confirm the always compelling storyline that Canada is once again being “harassed” by an ignorant American officialdom eager to blame its northern neighbour for its own mistakes. The National Post dismissed her as “irrational” and the commissioner of the RCMP declared himself “surprised and somewhat disappointed that the secretary isn’t better informed.”

Little matter that Napolitano’s slip should rightly be considered a gaffe. “I knew the minute it came out of my mouth it was wrong,” she said later. Neil Macdonald, the veteran CBC reporter who caught her out, set her up perfectly. The secretary, defending American plans to impose new document requirements at the border this June, noted quite accurately that “to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there.”

“Are you talking about the 9-11 perpetrators?” MacDonald asked, dangling the noose. “Not just those, but others as well,” said Napolitano. Drop the words “just” and “as well” and she would have been home free.

Instead, the furor that has erupted is certain to poison efforts by the two governments to cooperate over border issues at a time when it is critically important to deal with festering problems. Washington is set in June to require passports or other secure documents from everyone — Canadians and Americans — crossing into the United States, Napolitano made it clear she will not reconsider that deadline. Read more here.

Related: McCain links 9/11, Canada

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flood 2009

(GHY International)

Click HERE for all flood-related posts including the latest information.

Canada Needs Bigger Profile Abroad: Provinces

(The Canadian Press)

The Harper government needs to beef up Canada’s profile overseas if it wants to stimulate more trade and create jobs, say provincial trade ministers. The ministers were meeting with their federal counterpart, Stockwell Day, on Thursday to discuss strategies to help exporters and investors during the economic downturn.

One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s priorities when he took office was bolstering Canada’s presence on the world stage. But some provinces – as well as retired diplomats and former Conservative Trade Minister David Emerson – have been critical of his cuts to the Foreign Affairs Department. In particular, budget reductions in diplomacy and closures of Canadian missions abroad have been condemned as short-sighted. The latest closures, revealed this week, are slated for Cambodia and Bosnia.

Meanwhile, the United States has been pouring more resources into its international profile, as has the United Kingdom and Australia.

Ontario Trade Minister Sandra Pupatello complimented Day for his “activist agenda,” saying he took the trade portfolio in the right direction with an aggressive travel schedule that has taken him to China and India for long sojourns.

Harper has not visited India, China or Brazil – the world’s biggest emerging markets – since taking office three years ago.

“In our experiences abroad, we are given a clear message by leadership in other countries that they do want to see Canada,” Pupatello told reporters. “And while they really do appreciate provincial intervention, they really anticipate seeing ministers and the prime minister.” Read more here.

EU Envoys Back Launch of Canada Trade Talks

(Reuters – Darren Ennis)

European Union foreign ministers should agree to launch talks next week on a bilateral trade pact with Canada worth around $27 billion per year after EU envoys endorsed the plan on Thursday, diplomats said.

“The foreign ministers should give the green light at their meeting on Monday with the formal launch at the EU-Canada summit in Prague on May 6,” a diplomat told Reuters following a meeting of 27 EU ambassadors in Brussels.

France expressed some reservations to starting the negotiations under current economic conditions, but Paris’ lifted its veto on Friday after its concerns were met, diplomats said. Read more here.

Report Examines Possible Protectionist Responses to Economic Crisis

(World Trade Interactive)

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service examines three possible scenarios that could result from the protectionist pressures that have increased amid the ongoing global economic downturn. The report also identifies a number of related policy challenges for Congress.

Read the complete article at here and the CRS report via Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg PA here (PDF).

“10+2” Deadline to Coincide with Vessel Departure

(American Shipper)

U.S. Customs plans to change the filing deadline for advance import data required under the “10+2” rule to make compliance easier for shippers, according to a program official.

About 45% of Importer Security Filings are being submitted on time, but CBP believes that figure is low because it has been measuring timeliness against the time the first bill of lading is filed by the carrier under the 24-hour advance manifest rule. Many bills of lading are filed more than two days prior to vessel lading, which makes it difficult for importers to compile and file the necessary cargo details on time. Read more here (subscription required).

FDA Offers Small Entity Compliance Guide on Prior Notice of Imported Food

(World Trade Interactive)

The Food and Drug Administration has announced the availability of a guide to help small entities understand and comply with a November 7, 2008, final rule requiring prior notice of food (including animal feed) that is imported or offered for import into the U.S. This guide restates the current requirements for prior notice in simplified format and language but is not binding on either FDA or the public. FDA strongly recommends that affected parties consult the appropriate regulations in addition to reading this guide.

The guide can be downloaded here (PDF).

Business Groups, NGOs Seek Reforms in U.S. Trade Preference Programs

(World Trade Interactive)

More than two dozen trade and business associations and non-governmental organizations wrote to Congress and the White House April 22 to propose a major overhaul of U.S. trade preference programs. The groups said their proposal represents a consensus that reflects several years of hard work, and they asked to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and the leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees as soon as possible to discuss it.

The coalition praised existing preference programs for contributing to economic development in developing countries, lowering costs for U.S. businesses that rely on imported manufacturing inputs, reducing prices for U.S. consumers, and helping to improve local business climates abroad and thus build potential new markets for U.S. exports and regional trade. Nevertheless, there are several drawbacks associated with these programs, including short durations, rigid product restrictions, and complex and often contradictory rules that lead to immense uncertainty and confusion and therefore limit potential benefits. Read more here.

U.S. Trade Chief Says Obama Will Push Ahead on Pacts

(New York Times – Brian Knowlton)

In his first policy speech, the top United States trade official said Thursday that President Obama would work to revive global trade talks and complete three bilateral accords as part of an aggressive trade agenda.

The administration plans “a new paradigm” on trade, the trade representative, Ron Kirk, told an audience at Georgetown University. “We’re looking at everything,” he said. Rejecting fears of a turn to protectionism or a softening of support for free trade, Mr. Kirk said: “Now is not the time to turn inward. Now is not the time to be timid. Now is the time to revive global trade.”

Mr. Kirk vowed to press ahead on three bilateral trade agreements negotiated by the Bush administration. He said there was strong bipartisan support in Congress for an agreement with Panama – suggesting that its completion might come first – but that the administration was also working to advance the somewhat more controversial pacts with Colombia and South Korea.

Mr. Obama had criticized Colombia during his presidential campaign because of violence there against labor activists. But his administration has pointed to progress there since then.
On the accord with Seoul, United States auto manufacturers question whether it would adequately open South Korea’s auto market. Read more here.

Photo Adventures: Winnipeg Flooding

(Morris Photography)

Photographer Dave Morris tours some of the flooded areas around Winnipeg and southern Manitoba during the middle of April.

Are They Listening to Our Message About Border Security?

(CBC News)

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood alongside U.S. President Barack Obama in Ottawa in February 2009 and made his strong statement about how important Canada considers border security, many thought the Americans got the message.

Well, apparently they didn’t, as the new U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, appointed by Obama, suggested in April 2009 that terrorists have routinely entered her country through Canada, including the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Here’s some of what Janet Napolitano said during an interview with Neil Macdonald of CBC News, who asked her to clarify earlier statements she made about the borders of Mexico and Canada:

“Yes, Canada is not Mexico. It doesn’t have a drug war going on; it didn’t have 6,000 homicides that were drug-related last year,” Napolitano said.

“Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there.” Read more here.

Harper Must Deal With Border Blather

(Calgary Herald)

W here do they get these people? Had former president George W. Bush appointed to guard America’s borders a person such as Janet Napolitano who thinks 9/ 11 terrorists entered the U. S. from Canada, those who still respect him would be yet contending with the sneers of those who thought he was a rube surrounded by more rubes. But, President Barack Obama has appointed Napolitano as his Homeland Security Secretary, and that is exactly what she told the CBC’s Washington correspondent, Neil Macdonald, on Monday.

Later, she recanted, saying she had misunderstood the question.

Really? It seemed simple enough. She having declared, “To the extent that terrorists have come into our country, or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border,” Macdonald asked if she was referring to the 9/11 attackers. She replied, “Not just those, but others as well.”

If she wasn’t mentally nimble enough to follow the thread of such an uncomplicated conversation, what else does she not understand? Is it too much to hope a person tapped by the president for high office would exceed the average savvy by a margin proportionate to their promotion? Read the complete editorial here.

Related: Security Failings (Ottawa Citizen); Thickening border an ever-greater obstacle to U.S.-Canada trade (Vancouver Sun); Homeland Rigidity (Chronicle Herald)

US Tightens Customs Procedures

(Mike Young — IFW Net)

Trade with the US will be subject to more stringent Customs procedures for e-manifests from 25 April.

US Customs and Border Protection said individuals transporting goods across land and sea borders under an e-manifest must comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative’s rules on identification documents from 26 April.

The agency will issue a warning message to shippers which fail to comply with the new regulations.

From 1 June the warning message will be replaced by a rejection of the e-manifest if it is submitted without the correct documentation, such as a US passport or passport card.

Previously US borders could be cleared using a range of documents including birth certificates and driving licenses. Read more here (subscription)

Sweep Discovers More Than $1.3 Million in Counterfeit Items

(Bowdeya Tweh— The Times)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized counterfeit designer merchandise at Chicago O'Hare International Airport Tuesday valued at more than $1.3 million.

The merchandise was being shipped from Hong Kong to Toronto and was found in a warehouse sweep of arriving international freight shipments, according to a news release.

The shipment contained more than 2,000 items, including wallets, handbags, purses and tote bags bearing protected trademarks. The merchandise had a suggested retail price of more than $1.3 million and a domestic value of more than $300,000. Included in the shipment were counterfeit Prada and Coach handbags, Gucci and Louis Vuitton wallets, Chanel belts and Tiffany & Co. jewelry. Read more here.

What to Expect From a NAFTA Verification


This publication has been provided in order to give the reader a better understanding of the verification process under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The NAFTA allows each Party’s customs administration various methods for determining if a good certified as originating qualifies by meeting the NAFTA rules of origin requirements. Such methods may include written questionnaires to be completed by the exporter or producer, verification letters requesting information from the exporter or producer and visits to the exporter’s or producer’s premises. A verification could be conducted by any or all of these methods…

This information replaces RC4006.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When the Canada Border Services Agency Gives You a Warning


CBSA has provided an FAQ on getting a “warning” issued by a border services officer.

What does a “warning” mean?
Since this is your first violation, and it does not involve dangerous or prohibited goods, the border services officer has only given you a warning about importing goods illegally. The officer told you what you did to break the law and asked you to either pay the duty and taxes you owe or to forfeit your goods.

Does the CBSA keep records of warnings?

Yes. The CBSA enters your information into its computer system. When people cross the border, the CBSA conducts a search of this system and if it finds that you have received a warning in the past, there's a greater chance that:

• your goods will be inspected; and
• more serious action such as seizure of your goods and criminal prosecution will be taken if you have improperly declared goods again.

How long does the CBSA keep my record?

The CBSA keeps records of warnings for up to two years. These records help us enforce customs laws and regulations.

After two years, your record will automatically be deleted if you haven't had any more violations.

Read more in the publication available on the CBSA website here.

Stimulus Funds to Beef Up Border Protection

(Journal of Commerce Online – Bill Mongelluzzo)

Enhanced security could cost as much as $5 billion

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is stepping up its efforts to secure the nation’s land borders, and the agency is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars to support its efforts. Jayson Ahern, acting commissioner, said CBP will receive $420 million in federal stimulus funds for border security, and the General Services Administration will receive $300 million for border facility enhancements.

Ahern said Wednesday at the annual conference of the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America this funding will be a “good first step” toward the estimated $5 billion needed to build infrastructure and upgrade border facilities. […]

…CBP is pressing the trade community to provide more information about imported products from as far back in the supply chain as possible. CBP in January published its interim final rule on the advanced finally requirement known as 10-plus-two. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register in June, Ahern said. Read more here.

Memorandum D15-2-52: Certain Carbon Steel Welded Pipe Originating in or Exported from The People’s Republic of China (New)


Application of anti-dumping and countervailing duties

1. This memorandum refers to the application of anti-dumping and countervailing duties to importations of certain carbon steel welded pipe originating in or exported from the People’s Republic of China.

2. This memorandum is divided into six sections.

3. A description of the subject goods is provided.

4. The milestone dates of the investigation are provided along with the applicable classification numbers.

5. Information regarding the normal value of the subject goods and anti-dumping and countervailing duties is provided.

Memorandum D15-2-52.

Memorandum D15-2-44: Certain Carbon Steel Pipe Fittings (Revised)


Application of anti-dumping duty

1. This memorandum refers to the application of anti-dumping duties to importations of certain carbon steel pipe fittings originating in or exported from the People’s Republic of China.

2. This memorandum is being revised to reflect the Canadian International Trade Tribunal’s order, dated July 15, 2008, continuing the order regarding certain carbon steel pipe fittings originating in or exported from the People’s Republic of China.

Memorandum D15-2-44.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Managing Financial Risk in International Trade, Montreal, May 13, 2009

Expert advice in trying times. Come learn from and challenge our financial panel at this interactive half-day meeting.

Christian Martin, Experts LCG-ADM Inc
Bank lines of credit and safeguards offered in relation to international business operations.

Pierre Donato, Laurentian Bank
Importing and the “marginalization” of letters of credit.

Harold Riley, Export Development Canada
Exporter guarantee programs.

Normand Faubert, OptionDevises
The real challenge of foreign exchange – How to optimize through the sound management of foreign cash flows, the profitability of import/export operations.

Carl Gravel, Business Development Bank of Canada
Partner your growth – Overview of services offered.

More information and registration form available here (PDF)

Harper ‘Delighted’ at Not Having to Reopen NAFTA


Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday he was “delighted” by a U.S. decision not to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement to press for tougher labor and environmental protections.

“We’re delighted with this decision from the Americans,” Harper told a press conference during a visit to Jamaica, televised in Canada. “We can always improve on things, but it is essential to discuss the future and not review decisions taken in the past,” he said.

The 1994 trade pact created the largest trading bloc in the world by eliminating import tariffs on goods circulating among partners Canada, the United States and Mexico. During last year’s election campaign, then U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama often criticized the free trade pact and hinted that he might renegotiate it to include labor and environmental safeguards that would be enforced.

But Canada and Mexico were wary of reopening trade negotiations. “Once we re-open it, it would be very hard to get that cat back in the bag,” Harper explained.

On Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk said after returning from a weekend Summit of the Americas in Trinidad that U.S. concerns “can be addressed without having to reopen the agreement.” Read more here.

Napolitano Takes Hard Line on Border Security

(HS Today – Mickey McCarter)

Different threats to United States require different approaches on U.S. northern and southern borders but border integrity will be enforced, secretary vows Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano promised to work with Canada to develop shared and smart solutions to border security in advance of her first trip to the country but she also vowed first and foremost she would enforce U.S. border laws in exchanges with Canadian representatives in Washington, DC, Tuesday.

“I think if my job is to be a myth-buster, I’m a myth-buster,” Napolitano declared at a forum sponsored by the Border Trade Alliance. “And the myth I’m trying to bust is that there’s no real border between Canada and the United States.

“There’s the closets of friendships, there’s the closest of alliances. There’s the closest of trade relationships. I know that, I respect that,” she said in response to concerns from a Canadian businessman. “But the law says there’s a border and certain things have to be done at the border. And the fact of the matter is that Canada allows people into its country that we do not allow into ours. And that’s why you have to have a border. And you have to have a border policy that makes sense.”

Napolitano told Canadian lawmakers and business representatives alike that she would work with the Canadian government to address shared concerns over the thickening of the border--or putting in place security measures that slow the flow of legitimate cargo and travelers. Read more here.

The transcript of Ms Napolitano’s April 20 interview with CBC’s Neil Macdonald is on the CBC website at the CBC website.

Air Canada Requires Cargo Security Declaration Form from Freight Forwarders

(CIFFA eBulletin)

As a reminder, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), through the Foreign Carrier Model Security Program regulations has specific security requirements for all cargo destined to passenger aircraft departing from Canada to the United States for Freight Forwarders.

Effective immediately, all Freight Forwarders shall be required to submit their Cargo Security Declaration Form in addition to each Airway Bill attesting that it has taken all security measures to ensure the integrity of the freight. Please note this is solely applicable for freight destined to the United States from Canada. Please find below an example of Cargo Security Declaration Form:

(Business Letterhead of Freight Forwarder)

General Cargo Security Declaration
AWB #_____________________
Destination: _________________________

The Cargo dispatched by (Name of Agent or Freight Forwarder) comes from customers whose reliability we do not doubt. The cargo has been protected from the time the cargo was tendered to and accepted by us at our acceptance location.

For more information, contact you local Air Canada Cargo Representative or visit the website.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CBP to Deactivate Older NEXUS Frequent Traveler Cards


U.S. Customs and Border Protection today announced it will cancel old NEXUS cards for current NEXUS members on May 1.

CBP has been mailing new NEXUS cards to all members since November. The new cards have enhanced security features and allow U.S. and Canadian citizen cardholders to comply with the documentary requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

All members must activate their new cards within 30 days, verify and update their U.S. mailing address by going to the GOES page on the CBP website.

NEXUS members should destroy their old cards after activating their new ones. If members have not received their new cards, they should go to their local enrollment center to either pick up their new card or to apply to have a new card issued. Old cards will be deactivated May 1.

NEXUS is a joint CBP-Canada Border Services Agency program that both governments implemented to enhance border security while simplifying the entry process for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. It was established in 2002 and approximately 280,000 members participate in the program.

A similar program called Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) serves citizens of the U.S. on the southern border.

White House Won’t Reopen NAFTA

(Barrie McKenna — Globe & Mail)

Official says Obama won’t follow up on election pledge

A whispered assurance from a Barack Obama aide to Canadian diplomats that the future U.S. president would not rip up the North American free-trade agreement has proven prophetic.

Mr. Obama’s top trade official confirmed yesterday that Mr. Obama has no plans to reopen NAFTA to insert tough environmental and labour protections, which he publicly pledged to do during last year’s presidential race.

“The President has said we will look at all of our options, but I think they can be addressed without having to reopen the agreement,” U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk told reporters.

Mr. Kirk made the comments after returning from the weekend Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, where Mr. Obama met privately with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The three leaders “are all of the mind we should look for opportunities to strengthen NAFTA,” Mr. Kirk said. Read more here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

CBSA to Retain In-Bond Option for Cross-Border Carriers

(Truck News)

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is declaring victory after successfully lobbying for the allowance of in-bond Customs clearance when the Advanced Commercial Information System (ACI)/e-Manifest program is rolled out.

Until recently, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) had suggested it would not allow goods to be moved in-bond for later clearance if all paperwork was not filed in advance by the owners of the cargo. Instead, trucks would have been turned back at the border, which would have proven costly for carriers – especially LTL carriers hauling freight for multiple shippers on a single trailer.

CTA argued that removing the in-bond option would negatively impact the entire supply chain. And eventually, CBSA agreed. The border agency said it would retain the in-bond option for carriers that participate in low-risk programs such as FAST, PIP, CSA or C-TPAT.

“By continuing to allow low-risk carriers the ability to move goods in-bond to clear customs at a secure inland facility the CBSA is demonstrating a clear commitment to conduct enhanced risk assessment without unduly impeding trade,” said CTA chief David Bradley.

PM Pleased with Progress Made at the 2009 Summit of the Americas

(The Prime Minister’s Office)

Summit produces greater cooperation and dialogue in the hemisphere

Canada is pleased with the progress made by participants in the 2009 Summit of the Americas to fight the impact of the global recession on the Western Hemisphere, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said today [Sunday].

“We sought to keep the focus on the global economic crisis and I am pleased with the substantive discussions I had with my counterparts on ways we could work together as part of the global response,” said the Prime Minister. “I am also pleased that, for the most part, leaders were in agreement that maintaining open markets is critical to a regional and a global recovery.”

“We saw a tremendous reciprocation of that spirit as the conference went on by other members, who at times have had divergent views.”

To further strengthen ties between Canada and other states in the Americas, the Prime Minister announced several new trade and development initiatives at the summit. Canada will be doubling its commitment to the Inter-American Development Bank. In addition, the Prime Minister announced a five-year technical assistance program to help countries that have signed or are about to sign trade agreements with Canada. Canada will strengthen its support for democracy in the Americas through a substantial new contribution to the Organization of American States Electoral Assistance Initiative.

“We also wanted to continue building Canada’s engagement in the Americas, and I had several good meetings with leaders in pursuit of that goal,” said the Prime Minister. “Overall, this Summit has been successful from Canada’s point of view.”

Canada Offers New Support to the Inter-American Development Bank

(The Prime Minister’s Office)

This year’s Summit of the Americas takes place in the context of the worst global economic crisis in generations. While the crisis began in developed countries, its effects are hitting emerging and developing economies with increasing severity. Canada’s focus for the Summit is encouraging free trade and discouraging other countries from moving back to protectionist measures.

With the attention of the region on the economic situation, the Summit is an opportunity to connect Canada’s strengths and effective response to the crisis to the circumstances and needs of regional partners while building on the outcomes of the London G20 Summit. Canada is working towards recovery in its own economy and providing leadership internationally:

• Canada’s strong stance against protectionism and in favour of further liberalization is opening new markets for our partners in the hemisphere

• Fixing the financial system is essential to restoring credit and investment flows to emerging economies

• Canada’s banks are solid thanks to our sound approach to financial sector planning

• Accelerated, effective fiscal stimulus contributes to global demand and recovery

• Canada is making a substantial contribution to strengthening the resources of the international financial institutions, especially the IMF and the IFC global trade facility.

It is with this in mind that Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today [Saturday] that Canada will work to temporarily increase the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) lending capacity in response to the financial crisis. Today’s announcement responds to the urgent capital needs identified by the IDB as essential to an effective response to the effects of the economic crisis in the Americas.

“Canada is the only country taking a leadership role in responding to a critical need in such an innovative way,” said the Prime Minister. “This has not been done before and is a very significant contribution.”

This timely increase in support to the IDB will provide countries in the region with greater access to credit to promote economic growth, an essential element of economic recovery. It will double temporarily Canada’s lending capital at the IDB.

The IDB is a valued regional institution in which Canada plays an active role. The Bank is the main source of multilateral funding for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Canada is a non-borrowing regional member. Canada joined the Bank in 1972. The IDB is the oldest and largest regional development bank in Latin America and the Caribbean. Canada will host the annual meeting of IDB Governors in 2011.

For more information on Canada’s partnership with the IDB can be found here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Canada, the Last Free Trader

(Thomas Walkom — The Toronto Star)

For 20 years, Canada has focused on free trade with the United States. It is our special relationship, the fulcrum of our economy, our one and only big idea.

But there are indications that this particular big idea is fast becoming passé.

In part, the sheer fact of the global slump is to blame. As the perennial softwood lumber dispute shows, the U.S. has never entirely embraced its obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Any recession merely heightens America’s protectionist instincts.

But this is not just any recession. It is shifting the balance in the world economy. The America that emerges from this slump promises to be a significantly different country.

Pre-recession America was the world’s glutton – a country whose consumers were willing to buy anything and everything even if they had to go into debt.

For Canada, with unique access to this massive and undiscriminating market, prosperity was assured. Did Americans want gas-guzzling pickups? Canadians would build them – and then provide the petroleum to make them run.

Did Americans want lumber to build houses that ultimately they couldn’t afford? No problem. We’d sell them that as well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Transpacific Shipping Lines Adopt Minimum Rates for 2009-10 Contracts

(Transport Intelligence)

Container shipping lines belonging to the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) are recommending what they describe as “an unprecedented schedule” of minimum base freight rates from Asia to the U.S. for their upcoming service contracts, in an effort to stabilise revenues and services.

Confirming that development in a recently-published statement, the TSA claimed that establishing a floor on rates, in the light of a recent flurry of reductions, would “likely decide whether some lines continue to operate in the trade”.

The TSA stated that despite initiatives previously announced by that body, efforts to curtail rate volatility during the traditional off-peak period had been largely unsuccessful, as carriers struggled to respond to substantially lower cargo demand and the resulting overcapacity.

“Senior executives with TSA carriers now must come to terms with a stark set of choices: set their pricing at minimally sustainable levels, or see massive losses in 2009-10 that will not only threaten their viability but also damage the service integrity in the trade.” Read more here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2009 Red River Flood


This video depicts the effects of the 2009 Red River Flooding on King's Park (located in South Winnipeg). The latter portion of the video depicts the RM of Richot, just south of the city.

New Import Requirements for Food Products Containing Small Amounts of Meat/Poultry

(World Trade Interactive)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a notice April 14 advising importers of new requirements for imports of food products containing small amounts of meat or poultry. CBP notes that a Department of Agriculture import permit will now be required for all Food Safety Inspection Service-exempted food products containing small amounts (i.e., less than two percent) of meat and/or poultry ingredients.

Therefore, products such as bouillon cubes, extracts and soup mixes, which were previously allowed entry solely under a health certificate indicating that the product was concentrated by boiling, will now also require a USDA import permit. CBP will begin enforcing this new requirement on June 22.

Canadian Border Crossings: From Bad to Worse?

(Land Line – David Tanner)

Truckers can face two worst-case scenarios when crossing the U.S.-Canadian border. Not only are long wait times a foregone conclusion, especially from Michigan or New York into Ontario, but there’s also a chance that insufficient paperwork on a load will lead to an even longer wait or a flat-out rejection.

Transport Canada is working to implement a streamlined system for cross-border freight similar to the ACE program in the U.S. ACE stands for Automated Commercial Environment, and it requires truckers or shippers to send a load manifest electronically to border officials ahead of a crossing.

The Canadian system is called ACI, or Advance Commercial Information.

An easy way to decipher the alphabet soup is to think of ACE and ACI as the manifest paperwork for the freight, while FAST, C-TPAT and other programs are the credentials used for the drivers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is certainly in favor of streamlining the clearance system at border crossings, but not when the system favors large businesses and shuts out small carriers from the U.S.

The ACI program, according to OOIDA, favors larger carriers that are already paying to belong to programs such as FAST, C-TPAT and others. OOIDA believes many small-business operators could get shut out if they don’t jump through extra hoops at extra costs.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance, on the other hand, is lobbying the government for protections for the biggest carriers, shippers and customs brokers who use FAST, C-TPAT and the credentialing programs that small businesses may not use. Read more here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ex-Prosecutor Picked for New US ‘Border Czar’

(Associated Press)

The job title — “border czar” — is familiar to Alan Bersin, who more than a decade ago led an effort to fight drug and human smuggling that had mixed results at best.

Bersin was tapped Wednesday to oversee America’s efforts to keep drugs and illegal immigrants from flowing in from Mexico. As a federal prosecutor in the Clinton administration, he headed up a border crackdown that discouraged illegal crossings in the San Diego area but drove migrants to attempt more dangerous treks through the desert. […]

Bersin, now the assistant Homeland Security secretary for international affairs, held a similar title from 1995 to 1998 — Justice Department special representative for the Southwest border. As he will in his new job, he worked with agencies on both sides of the border to help coordinate the U.S. government’s efforts to curb the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Bersin brings a deep understanding of the border, like his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor. He rides horses on his ranch along the San Diego border, near the shanties of Tijuana, Mexico, in an area that was overrun with illegal immigrants until the mid-1990s. Read more here.

Day Launches New Trade Offices in China to Help Canadian Business

(Minister of International Trade)

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today launched new Canadian trade offices in Chengdu and Shenzhen, China. These will help Canadian companies gain access to one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

“Expanding trade opportunities for Canadians is a top priority for our government. These cities present some of the greatest prospects in China,” said Minister Day. “Expected to open on July 1, the two offices will further strengthen Canada’s commercial footprint and expand the business connections that are so critical to trade in China.”

An additional four Canadian trade offices – in Nanjing, Qingdao, Shenyang and Wuhan – are expected to open before the end of the year. Together, these six cities are home to almost 50 million people.

“A great number of opportunities exist for Canadian companies in sectors such as construction, agriculture, machinery and equipment, and technology,” said Minister Day. “These new offices will be central points of contact for Canadian firms and our Chinese business partners seeking to establish new links with everything Canada has to offer.”

In 2008, Canadian merchandise exports to China totalled $10.4 billion, up 9.1% from the previous year. Merchandise imports from China totalled $42.6 billion, up 11.3%.

Additional information can be obtained on this matter at the DFAIT website.

Stockwell Day Toughens Canadian Stance on Meat Dispute

(Financial Post)

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day suggested Thursday Canada’s patience with Washington is running thin over a U.S. meat-labelling law that is “dissuading” the purchase of Canadian-bred livestock, and he plans to be “aggressive” in defending the country’s interests.

Mr. Day’s remarks, at the conclusion of a week-long visit to Asia, mark a sharp U-turn on how Canada will deal with the Obama admistration on this trade dispute that Canadian swine and cattle producers claim is “killing” their sector. Only a week ago, he said he would “reserve judgment” on pursuing retaliation against the United States through the World Trade Organization.“We have time limitations on how long we will let this draw out,” Mr. Day told reporters in a conference call from Hong Kong.

The law sparking this latest Canada-U.S. brouhaha deals with country-of-origin labelling, and was years in the making and introduced in stages — in the fall and then last month. It requires that labels on meat and other foods sold at U. S. supermarkets have labels that indicate from which countries the food originates.

Canada had won concessions from the former Bush administration that it was, at least temporarily, willing to live with. But in February, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a letter to the American meat-packing sector in which he asked that it undertake additional “voluntary” measures that are not in the bill, including that labels be included on processed meats. Read more here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Border U.S. Regulatory Barriers Mean Increased Costs for Canadian Industry and Its Customers

(NB Business Journal – Rebecca Penty)

Peter Nelson is taking his case for a more open border with Canada’s southern neighbour right to the woman at the top – U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Nelson, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, will be in Washington, D.C., from Sunday to next Tuesday for the Border Trade Alliance annual conference, where Napolitano will deliver the keynote address.

He wants an audience with Napolitano – one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s recently-named top officials – who has mused about introducing new border security measures to bring the United States’ border with Canada in line with its Mexican boundary.Nelson worries new measures will slow down travel for truckers getting across, adding to fees for bureaucracy that is already burdensome for industry. “We only expect to see even more security, not less,” Nelson said, adding that border decisions should balance trade and security needs. “For us, it’s about trade. For her, it’s about security and there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground anywhere.” Read more here.

How 10+2 Can Be Put to Real Use

(Journal of Commerce – Peter Tirschwell)

Implementing 10+2 may be a costly hassle for many importers, but for many it will reveal data about their supply chains that until now had been beyond their reach. For example, the requirement that the factory be included on the 10+2/ISF filing means that the importer will always know, assuming it obtains accurate data, which factories are making its merchandise at any given time and which service providers it is using for transportation.

John Motley, the CEO of Log-Net, sees a lot of opportunity here. For example, knowing where a factory is located, an importer might decide as part of a green initiative to use the closest port rather than one further away that is chosen by a carrier or intermediary. Read more here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Canada and Japan Expand Bilateral Air Transport Agreement

(Canada-Asia News Service – Transport Canada)

The Government of Canada has reached an agreement with Japan to expand the existing bilateral air transport agreement between the two countries. The expanded agreement allows airlines to offer unlimited services between Canada and any city in Japan outside of the Tokyo area. It also allows, for the first time, under certain conditions, access to Haneda Airport,

Tokyo’s metropolitan airport. The agreement further includes modernized aviation safety and security provisions and provides mechanisms for airline prices to adapt faster to market fluctuations.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ottawa Gets Tough on Security

(Mike De Souza — Canwest News Service)

Targets organized crime in airports, marine ports

The Conservative government is launching a security crackdown on more than 100,000 workers at Canada’s airports and marine ports, Canwest News Service has learned.

The initiative comes through a new deal signed Wednesday by the federal Transport Department and the RCMP to weed out organized-crime operatives from restricted areas. The agreement would improve information-sharing between the two parties and allow the RCMP to conduct detailed background checks on employees at airports or marine ports who are applying for new security passes or renewals.

A senior government official told Canwest News Service the deal would improve the security of passengers and cargo at airports and marine ports.

“Our government is serious about getting people who shouldn’t be working in classified areas out, and we’re committed to fighting organized crime, wherever it exists,” the source said. Read more here.

Ottawa Holding Off on Trade Action Versus U.S.

(Paul Vieira — Financial Post)

Stockwell Day, the International Trade Minister, said on Thursday Canada is “reserving judgment” on potential trade action against Washington over a meat-labelling law that domestic livestock producers argue is a “significant” non-tariff barrier costing them hundreds of millions of dollars.

As he played down potential trade action with Washington, Mr. Day announced he asked the World Trade Organization to begin consultations to address South Korea’s nearly six-year ban on imported Canadian beef.

Canadian livestock producers say their sector is in crisis as the result of a U.S. law that requires labels on meat and other foods sold at U. S. supermarkets to indicate from which countries the food originates. Sales of live hogs to Americans are down over 40% from a year ago, and the cattle producers claim the law has cost its sector $400-million, as U.S. meat packers decline to take Canadian livestock due to the added red tape the labelling law entails. Read more here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

U.S. Protectionism Remains Alive — To Canada’s Detriment

(Barbara Yaffe — Vancouver Sun)

An ever-thickening border between the two countries imposes annual costs of $15 billion to $20 billion on Canadian exporters, official says.

Despite a warm, fuzzy glow that followed Barack Obama’s February visit to Ottawa, Canadians are witnessing serious signs of greater U.S. protectionism and a thickening border.

That’s the conclusion of several former senior government officials who put forward their view this month in a series of articles on the Canada-U.S. relationship.

John Manley, Derek Burney and Colin Robertson, writing in the latest issue of Policy Options, a political journal published in Montreal, assert that Canada needs to get a lot more aggressive in protecting its trade, energy and security interests. […]

[T]he Buy American provisions are poised to hurt Canadian industry.

In fact, the damage already has begun, asserts Manley. He cites Hayward Gordon Ltd. in Ontario, shut out of bidding for a Maryland water treatment project, and a Calgary company, DIRTT Environmental Solutions, that has opened a plant in Georgia to get around the Buy America provision.

Writes Manley: “The siren call of protectionism has grown louder as the economy has deteriorated and Canada’s vital interests are at risk.” Auto manufacturers in this country, he says, “are under intense pressure to relocate manufacturing to the U.S.” because of the ever-thickening border. Read the complete article here.

Dow Sues Federal Government Over Pesticide Ban

(Juliet O’Neill — Ottawa Citizen)

U.S. chemical giant claims restricting 2,4-D in Quebec breaches NAFTA obligations

U.S. Dow AgroSciences has gone ahead with a threatened suit against the federal government under the North American Free Trade Agreement, seeking a repeal of Quebec’s ban on lawn pesticides containing 2,4-D and at least $2 million in damages.

William Amos, a lawyer for environmental organizations intervening in the case, urged the parties Thursday to move forward quickly in choosing the three-member NAFTA arbitration panel that will decide the case. It is urgent, he said, to remove a cloud over other provinces considering pesticide bans.

Dow’s claim asserts the ban is tantamount to “expropriation” of Dow investments, and accuses Canada of breaching “basic due process, transparency, good faith and natural justice.” Read more here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Canadian Trade Balance Unexpectedly Rises into Surplus

(CEP News)

Led by gains in all parts of the Canadian export sector, the international merchandise trade balance rose unexpectedly into positive territory in February, according to data from Statistics Canada on Thursday.

Against most expectations, Canada recorded a small surplus of C$0.1 billion. Economists had forecast the deficit to hold steady at -C$1.2 billion following a -C$1.2 billion deficit in January. The previous months' deficit was initially reported as -C$1.0 billion.

Exports rebounded to C$33.077 billion up 5.2% from January's level. The StatsCan report noted, "The gain was mainly due to volume increases and followed two consecutive monthly declines. The growth in this sector was driven by a 27.3% advance in aircraft and other transportation equipment exports."

Exports to the United States rose 5.0% to $24.274 billion, reflecting gains in automotive products which rose 19.8%.

Imports rose 1.1% from January to $32.951 billion, largely attributable to the increased importation of machinery, equipment and automotive products.

Summary statistics and a link to the data files are on the Statistics Canada website. Export and import price indexes are here.

Good News Beyond the First Quarter?

(Export Development Canada – Peter G. Hall)

Decoupling was a popular term a year ago, used to describe how the rest of the world had unhitched from the U.S. economic problem. It is now rich fodder for late-show humour. The acutely synchronized recoil that output saw in late 2008 has erased decoupling from the vernacular, and sent global forecasts tumbling. To make matters worse, this is no one-quarter wonder.

Even more dramatic was the size of the hit to output. The mighty U.S. economy fell by an annualized 6.3%. Pan-European output fell by 6.6%. The loss in Japan was a staggering 12.7%. For single-quarter performance, these numbers have few precedents in recent history.

First quarter, 2009 expectations are almost as gloomy. A further 5.7% contraction is forecast for the US. Japanese forecasters think their economy took an additional 11.7% pasting. Europe gets off a bit more easily, with a ‘mere’ 3.2% drop. Few if any of the remaining industrialized economies will escape unscathed, and Canada is in an unfortunate subset of economies where the decline will actually deepen. Moreover, emerging markets are showing signs of continued duress. Back-to-back declines of this magnitude are extremely rare in the past 50 years, occurring just once in Canada, the UK and the U.S., but unheard of in France, Japan and others.

From this point, the path of GDP growth is less certain. Recent monthly indicators are very modestly upbeat, leading to talk of bottoming-out. Equity markets have rallied, further boosting sentiment. Some analysts maintain that the sharpness of fourth- and first-quarter contractions will itself provoke a positive, albeit tepid, response. Others look at the downward recent momentum and believe it will be sustained in the coming months. Which argument is most compelling? Read more here.

Canada Takes WTO Action on South Korean Beef Ban

(Reuters – Randall Palmer)

Canada will request World Trade Organization consultations on South Korea's ban on Canadian beef imports, a formal step which could lead to stronger action, Trade Minister Stockwell Day said Thursday.

South Korea banned Canadian beef in May 2003 after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was found in a Canadian cow, but Day said it was unjustified to continue this since Canada was categorized in 2007 as a "controlled BSE risk." […] In 2002, South Korea was Canada's fourth-largest beef export market at C$50 million ($41 million). Read more here.

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) Reminder

(U.S. CBP — Pembina)

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) documentary requirements for land and sea travel will go into effect on June 1, 2009. U.S., Canadian, and Bermudan citizens that
were previously exempt document requirements will be required to present a WHTI-compliant document for entry into the United States at land and sea ports of entry beginning June 1.

WHTI codes will be applied to ACE E-Manifests starting April 2009, with a transition period, until compliance is enforced on June 1, 2009. Effective June 1, 2009, all E-Manifests filed that are non-WHTI compliant will be rejected by ACE until WHTI compliance is obtained. As a reminder, WHTI-compliant documents include the following:

• U.S., Canadian or Bermudan passports;
• U.S. Passport Card;
• Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (when and where available);
• Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST);
• Form I-872 American Indian Card, or (when available) Enhanced Tribal Cards;
• Military identification cards (for members of the U.S. armed forces on official orders);
• U.S. Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens on official maritime business);

As specified in the WHTI land and sea final rule, U.S. and Canadian citizen children under age 16, and those under age 19 traveling in a designated group, may present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

GHY V.P. to Speak at I.E.Canada Conference

(GHY International)

Reynold Martens, Executive Vice President, Geo. H. Young & Co. Ltd. will be one of the featured speakers at the 18th Annual I.E. Canada Conference being held from April 20-22, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario. The theme of the three-day conference is “Emerging Issues in Customs and Trade Compliance.”

Martens’ presentation will discuss the preparation and review process necessary to ensure a successful outcome to a CBSA audit. Some of the areas that will be covered include:

• Self-adjustments and voluntary disclosures
• What constitutes “reason to believe”?
• Multiple versus single program verifications
• A step by step review of how the audit will be performed
• Priorities and trends in customs audits
• Common operations challenges importers face
• Common problems in areas such as H.S. Classification, origin
• Declaration, valuation of goods, SIMA/embargoed goods, duties relief
• Administrative monetary penalties (AMPS)
• Disputing a decision

“Going through a customs audit can be a disruptive and stressful experience. So don’t be caught unprepared!” warns Martens, adding that, “Knowing what to expect and doing your homework can save your company a substantial amount of money.”

Registration details and additional information about the conference can be found here.

Shippers Ask For More Clarity on 10+2 Rule

(Logistics Management – Patrick Burnson)

While the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is not enforcing the 10+2 Rule during the first year of implementation, shippers are saying that the agency has left key some questions unanswered.

“We still do not know how many filings must be made within a ‘scope-of-field,’” said Beth Peterson, a president of BPE, a global trade consultancy in San Francisco. “Furthermore, the CBP is now telling us that it is raising the bar on best practices.”

When it was first published two years ago, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) Best Practices Catalog represented an effort to provide members with current information regarding highly effective cargo security practices identified while conducting validations.

Since then C-TPAT has conducted more than 8000 validations and revalidations throughout the world.

But according to Peterson, the rules have changed.

“There still is no information on how the Importer Security Filing (ISF) is to be transmitted,” she said. “As a result, a lot of shippers are still out of compliance.” Read more here.

World Economy to Recover in 2010 Says Credit Ratings Agency

(Industry Week – AFP)

Fitch predicts global GDP growth of 1.4% in 2010

The global economy will decline sharply this year and recover in 2010, credit ratings agency Fitch forecast on April 7, in a further sign of international economic malaise. Fitch said in its Global Economic Outlook that worldwide gross domestic product (GDP), which grew by 1.7% last year, would decline by 2.7% in 2009 and then recover to show growth of 1.4% in 2010.

Advanced economies, including the U.S., Japan and the euro area, would see the sharpest declines in GDP, by 3.8% in 2009, whereas emerging markets will continue to grow, albeit markedly slower, at a rate of 0.7%, according to Fitch. Read more here.

Government of Canada Supports the Agriculture Industry in International Markets

(Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada)

The Government of Canada today launched a new program to help Canadian farmers and exporters sell more products to more international customers. This new Trade and Market Development Program is part of the new Growing Forward agricultural framework.

“You have to create opportunities in international markets to have a competitive farm gate here in Canada,” said Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “By supporting Canadian exporters, we are increasing opportunities for everyone all along the value chain, from farm gate to fork.”

“This program is another way to help agriculture exporters expand opportunities across international borders,” said the Honorable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture).

The Trade and Market Development program will make sure exporters have the information and support they need to sell more products in more markets. It includes a range of initiatives to bring industry success in global and domestic markets. The program will help equip the sector to seize market opportunities and address emerging challenges.

A key component of the program is the AgriMarketing program which will sell more of Canada's safe, high-quality world-class products around the world. For example, the program will help exporters by ensuring the Canada Brand maple leaf is on promotional materials, raising the profile of the good, healthy food our farmers produce.

Growing Forward is a new commitment to Canada's farmers and associated industries that is focused on achieving results, reflects input from across the sector, and will deliver programs that are simpler, more effective and tailored to local needs.

For additional information about the Trade and Market Development Program, please visit here.

U.S. Government Finds Unfair Dumping and Subsidization of Citric Acid and Certain Citrate Salts from China and Canada


On April 7, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) announced its affirmative final determinations in the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on imports of citric acid and certain citrate salts from the People's Republic of China (China) and Canada. Citric acid and citrate salts are used in various food and beverage products including carbonated and noncarbonated drinks, and frozen foods, as well as laundry detergents and household cleaning products.

Dumping occurs when a foreign company sells a product in the United States at less than normal value. Subsidies are financial assistance from foreign governments that benefit the production, manufacture, or exportation of goods.

Commerce determined that Chinese and Canadian producers/exporters have sold citric acid and citrate salts in the United States at 94.61% to 156.87%, and 23.21% below normal value, respectively.

In the China investigation, mandatory respondents TTCA Co., Ltd. (a.k.a. Shandong TTCA Biochemistry Co., Ltd.) and Yixing Union Biochemical Co., Ltd., received final dumping rates of 129.08% and 94.61%, respectively. Eleven Chinese exporters qualified for a separate rate of 111.85%. All other exporters will receive the China-wide rate of 156.87%.

In the Canada investigation, mandatory respondent, Jungbunzlauer Canada, Inc., received a final dumping rate of 23.21%. All other Canadian exporters will receive a rate of 23.21%. Read more here.

Canada Recession May Recover in Late 2009: Poll

(Reuters – Ka Yan Ng)

The Canadian economy is expected to worsen in the first half of 2009 but may start seeing tentative signs of recovery as early as the third quarter, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

Economists were more pessimistic in their outlook for the economy through 2009 and into 2010, compared with the previous quarterly survey in January, slashing forecasts for gross domestic product, the unemployment rate, housing starts, and the Bank of Canada's lending rate.

The survey of over 20 economists, conducted in the days after the end of the first quarter, forecast the economy will shrink by an annualized 2.5% this year – more than twice the 1.1% contraction predicted in the January poll. Read the complete article here.

Flood 2009: New Travel Restrictions & Detour

(GHY International)

The following travel restrictions have been placed on PTH #75:

• PTH #75 from Winnipeg city limits to PR #205 is closed, local traffic only.
• PTH #75 from PR #205 to Morris is closed.
• PTH #75 from Morris to PTH #14 is closed, local traffic only.

An alternate route detour for PTH #75 will be in effect. The detour will be as follows:

1) Travel southwest on PTH #3 for 62km from the Perimeter Highway (PTH #100) to Carman.

2) Travel south on PTH #3 for 35km from Carman to the Jct. of PTH #14.

3) Travel east on PTH #14 for 50km to PTH #75.

4) Travel south on PTH #75 for 22km to U.S. border (Emerson/Pembina port of entry).

The detour is 169 km in total.

For additional information, maps and links, please click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Flood 2009: Traffic From Canada Being Detoured by Flooding

(GHY International)

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency says traffic from Canada on Highway 75 will be rerouted around the city of Morris, Manitoba, due to flooded roads.

A statement from the agency says the Pembina port of entry will remain open and will continue to process traffic, as will the crossing at Emerson, Manitoba.

Click here for current flood information (Province of Manitoba).

Update: Highway 75 will be closed from Winnipeg to Highway 14 south of Morris, starting at noon Tuesday. Commercial vehicles, such as semis, will have to take Highway 3 from Winnipeg and then head back toward Highway 14 to Highway 75. Highway 75 will remain open from Highway 14 to the Canada-U.S. border.

Map of alternate traffic routes to Pembina with directions (PDF)
Map of alternate traffic routes from Winnipeg to Pembina (PDF)

Alternate routes are subject to change.

Update2: Story from CBC News.

Update3: As reported here, Bob Dolyniuk, general manager of the Manitoba Trucking Association, estimates that the highway closure will cost the industry about $250,000 every day due to the roughly 100 kilometre detour.

“It's going to have to be passed on to the shippers and the public, there’s no question about it,” he said. “Costs are about $2 per kilometre, so that's $400 (extra) round trip from Winnipeg to the border, and that's way too much for any trucking company.”

More about the potential costs to Manitoba truckers here.

$1 Billion Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Domestic Producers Against Insurers and U.S. Government for Damages Caused by Dumped Chinese Food Products

(Business Wire)

Today, domestic producers of fresh garlic, crawfish tail meat, canned mushrooms and honey, represented by the law firm of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, filed a class action lawsuit against major insurance companies to recover close to $1 billion in damages. The Washington, D.C. law firm of Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg, LLP is co-counsel with Kelly Drye for many domestic producers of crawfish tail meat.

The complaint states that the insurers’ negligent issuance of customs surety bonds, and subsequent refusal to pay under those bonds, allowed the sale of huge amounts of competing food imports from China at below-cost, or “dumped” prices. This caused severe financial damages to the domestic producers. The lawsuit, filed in the federal Court of International Trade, also claims that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Commerce Department failed to enforce the four antidumping orders issued years ago to protect the domestic producers from dumped Chinese imports. Read more here.

U.S. Levies 10% Softwood Customs Duty

(Bertrand Merotte — Globe & Mail)

The United States is slapping 10 per cent customs duties on four Canadian provinces on imports of softwood lumber products, saying Canada has failed to correct a breach of the softwood trade deal between the two countries.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a news release that the duties will remain in place until such time as the U.S. has collected $54.8-million (U.S.).

“We regret that Canada has chosen not to meet its commitments and has made this action necessary,” Mr. Kirk said in a statement.

An offer from Canada of $36.66-million last month was not considered to have fixed the breach identified by a trade tribunal in February, according to the U.S. trade office. Read more here.

Seeing Straight at the Border

(Lou Smyrlis — CTL)

Although the border is not making headlines the way it used to a few years ago when long lineups were the norm, the reality is there are some funny things going on. It would be fair to say things are not as they seem. For example, as Robert Murray of MSM Transportation pointed out, the transborder business has been on the decline since about the fourth quarter of 2006. Yet the statistics don’t bear that out. The rising value of energy exports from Western Canada for much of 2007 and 2008 served to mask the consistently declining volumes of exports from the manufacturing sector in Central Canada. While to many politicians an export is an export, the reality for motor carriers, and those based in Central Canada in particular, is that the demise of manufacturing exports is a serious issue that requires addressing.

The other mirage at the border is that more than 7 years after 9/11 and the myriad of security programs that were spawned, it is actually getting easier to cross it. Certainly the extended border delays that frazzled the nerves of transborder truckers for years have eased. But, as the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) pointed out when it recently appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade, this should not be taken as any indication that all is now running smoothly…

Read more here.

Note: Lou Smyrlis is the Editorial Director of Canadian Transportation & Logistics and the Transportation Group of Magazines.