U.S., Canadian Customs Agencies, Railroads Reach Agreement To Strengthen Security

OTTAWA, Ontario – United States and Canadian customs agencies, along with Canada’s two major railways, have announced a declaration of principles to further enhance security at the Canada-U.S. border and to ensure secure rail access to the U.S.

The joint government-industry initiative was completed after several months of discussion about ways to increase security of U.S.-bound rail shipments, while ensuring trade continues to flow between the two countries. These discussions were part of a larger process of implementing the Smart Border Declaration adopted by Canada and the United States in December 2001.

“The signing of the declaration of principles shows how the government and the private sector can work in partnership to build a smarter border by enhancing security and facilitating trade,” said U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. “The rail security program we have developed is a vital component of our strategy to keep America and the American people safe, as well as to facilitate the flow of trade between Canada and the United States.”

The declaration of principles — signed by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA), Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) — outlines the principles for targeting, screening and examining rail shipments transported by the two Canadian carriers into the United States from Canada. It includes guidelines for collecting advanced electronic manifest information and installing imaging and radiation detection equipment at seven CN and CPR border crossings.

“The operating procedures, which underpin this agreement, will stress the importance of focusing enforcement efforts on high-risk containers, and that is clearly one of the key principles of the Smart Border Declaration,” said Rob Wright, Commissioner of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

E. Hunter Harrison, CN’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “CN is a North American company with significant interests in both Canada and the United States. We believe this agreement will strengthen existing border security while assuring an orderly flow of goods between the two countries – a flow that is vital to both Canada and the U.S.”

“We strongly support the efforts of both governments to maintain a secure border in the face of potential terrorist threats,” said Rob Ritchie, CPR’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The Canada-U.S. trade partnership is the biggest in the world. We believe the best way to keep our goods flowing smoothly across the border is to provide a strong, secure rail service.”

Other Efforts

In addition to the efforts related to the declaration of principles, CN and CPR have both secured accreditation under CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program.

C-TPAT is a joint government-business initiative designed to build cooperative relationships that strengthen overall supply chain and border security.

The railways and Customs officials are already working to implement the measures outlined in the declaration of principles, and expect this work will be completed over the next several months.

“C-TPAT membership is an important vote of confidence in the steps CPR has taken to run a secure railway in the face of recent security threats,” Ritchie said. “Initiatives such as C-TPAT help to keep important international trade routes operating safely and securely in these turbulent times.”

By working with Customs officials and shippers to meet C-TPAT guidelines, Canadian railroads expect to see smoother Customs clearance processes at border points.

Published in the May 2003 edition of The Cross-Tie.