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Businesses And Agencies Discuss U.S. Canada Cross Border Trade

The North Country Chamber of Commerce held its first ever International Trade Day in Plattsburgh Wednesday.  The program brought together border officials and businesses to network and get updates on cross-border regulatory changes.
Representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and numerous government agencies including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, the USDA, and the FDA, joined other trade experts in Plattsburgh to provide businesses information on cross-border trade clearance issues.

There have been similar programs in Buffalo and elsewhere. But with NAFTA changes coming and other trade discussions under way, North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas says they were looking for ways to enhance and create a stronger base of facts and information about U.S and Canadian trade.  “We have over 100 Quebec-based companies in the North Country. The supply chains are bi-national. We keep talking about the importance of these supply chains. They only work as well as things work at the border. It’s an extraordinary gathering in one place at one time of every facet of cross border clearance of both people and goods.”

Deputy Consul General of Canada in New York Khawar Nasim told attendees that it’s crucial to keep a fluid border.  “Canada is a trading nation. Fifty percent of what we produce is exported and the U.S. market is our most critical market. Canada is the number one export destination for U.S. goods and services. You export more to Canada than you do to China, Japan and the U.K. combined.”

The Buffalo Field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection manages ports of entry at Buffalo, Alexandria Bay and Champlain.  Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy notes that last year  1.6 million commercial conveyances crossed the region’s ports with goods valued at $70 billion.  “An event like this where we can bring every partner stakeholder both Canadian and U.S. together to discuss the current trade issues, to discuss the current processing at the border can only be beneficial for not only the traveler but for us working at the border.”  

A point of initial discussion was the new trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.  Douglas says trade is already beginning to ramp back up following months of uncertainty.  “The greatest impact we have seen from the protracted negotiations and other disagreements between the U.S. and Canada has been almost a cessation of activity. Since October 1st we have had an extreme ramp up of contact. People are getting back to business and that’s great to see.”

Deputy Consul General Nassim believes the contentious parts of the old NAFTA agreement have been set aside.  “What’s good about the agreement is that it protects an integrated platform between Canada, the United States and Mexico. That is critical for all of us because when we start introducing barriers to the trade we inevitably result in higher prices for consumers, we result in displacement unnatural displacement of jobs, so we’re very optimistic that this is going to bode well for an even stronger relationship.”

Workshops and seminars at the chamber’s International Trade Day included improving security in supply chains, best practices for getting goods across the border and working with Customs and Border Protection’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise.  

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