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The State of the Border/Border Priorities

Release Date
U.S.-Canada Border Conference, Cobo Center, Detroit, Michigan

Commissioner Kerlikowske's Remarks as Prepared

Thank you, [Judge] Rob [Bonner, former CBP Commissioner]. It’s an honor to join Ms. Lizotte-MacPherson, President of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This is a wonderful opportunity to share our enthusiasm for the continued progress we’re making on large-scale binational initiatives, including:

  • the Beyond the Border Action Plan;
  • the CBP-CBSA Cooperation Agenda; and
  • the implementation of the Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance Agreement (LRMA).

Ambassador David MacNaughton hosted me at the Canadian Embassy in Washington last month, and we discussed many of these issues. During that meeting, we reflected on the amount of progress that has been made over the past few years in improving trade and travel flows between our two countries—and we discussed how we can continue to build on that progress.

As you know, the United States and Canada share the largest peaceful border between two nations in the world – a truly remarkable accomplishment in today’s world. But despite this “dividing line” between our two countries, there is so much more that unites us – in shared economic goals, in democratic ideals, and in a profound commitment to keeping our nations secure.

At the ports of entry along the Northern border, CBP has more than 3,700 CBP officers and nearly 200 agriculture specialists who ensure that dangerous goods, contraband, and individuals are intercepted, while facilitating the legitimate trade and travel so critical to our economies.

We work tirelessly to expedite these legitimate flows along the northern border by deploying advanced technology to help us better identify threats, including

Radio Frequency Identification technology, next-generation license plate readers, large-scale and small-scale imaging technologies, as well as a variety of portable and hand-held technologies, including radiation portal monitors.

We also partner with our Canadian friends, harmonizing various programs — such as our Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Canada’s Partners in Protection (PIP) — to provide tangible cross-border benefits for our trusted traders. In fact, nearly 80 percent of PIPs members also participate in C-TPAT.

So, our collaboration and cooperation with our Canadian counterparts is of tremendous importance on so many fronts. Let me briefly summarize some of the key initiatives and programs that we are working on for you.

We are continuing to explore how to implement Cargo Pre-Inspection. This would enable CBSA personnel to be stationed here in the United States to review non-intrusive inspection (X-ray) images of rail cars departing the United States destined to Canada.

We were pleased to host a bilateral discussion in Washington on this issue in July, and we all agreed to form three working groups to define the logical next steps.

Specifically, we agreed to create a “Vision” working group; a “Legal” working group; and an “Operational” working group, which would include subject matter experts on the technical and logistical aspects of cargo pre-inspection.

You’ll recall that we conducted a cargo pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo, New York. In January 2015, CBP, in coordination with Canadian counterparts, concluded that pilot, resulting in important lessons-learned for CBP that will have widespread positive implications for facilitating crossing at the U.S. border. 

Thus far, CBP’s analytical reports and traffic modeling suggest that decreases in wait times can be achieved by implementing a 100% “e-Manifest” requirement, eliminating cash collections (user fees) at primary inspection.

In general, however, CBP’s goals involve:  

  • eliminating user fee cash collection at primary inspection;
  • updating technology connectivity; and
  • mandating advance electronic filing of manifest (e-Manifests) for all commercial entries, including empty trucks.

CBP is committed to achieving these national policy and regulatory changes for the benefit of all border crossings. 

Another trade-focused initiative is our In-Transit pilot for trucks. We launched a 6-month pilot on May 27, which covers 9 Canadian carriers at three U.S. ports of entry. It will eliminate independent country-specific manifests for shipments transiting, but not being imported, into the neighboring country. This was developed in close collaboration with our stakeholders from the Canadian and American Trucking industry and our Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) partners.

We also continue to engage on the implementation of the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance (LRMA) between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada – which the U.S. and Canada signed in March 2015.

This landmark agreement, once implemented, will expedite lawful travel across all modes of transportation by:

  • providing for the expansion of Preclearance locations; and
  • providing the legal framework and reciprocal authorities necessary for U.S. and Canadian preclearance officers to effectively carry out their security, facilitation, and inspection processes in the other country.

Right now, legislation is pending in both Canada and the United States on this agreement. Given the groundbreaking nature of the 2015 Preclearance Agreement, the United States and Canada must each enact legislation to authorize certain aspects of the agreement. 

For the United States, such legislation would enable the exercise of criminal extra-territorial jurisdiction over officers operating abroad. Such legislation will close the gap in current law, ensuring that civilian U.S. government employees and contractors working abroad can be prosecuted for criminal acts committed outside the United States. This law would also apply to CBP employees who violate laws in host nations.

Turning to ACE – our Automated Commercial Environment – we’re nearing completion of the transition to a totally paperless process that is more efficient, reduces costs, and increases predictability for importers and exporters. CBP has continued to assess stakeholder readiness for the mandatory transition of post-release capabilities in ACE, and we’ve heard from key industry partners on the need for more flexibility in this transition.

As a result, CBP has moved the final mandatory date from October 1, 2016 to October 29, 2016 to allow additional time for our trade stakeholders to transition these capabilities to ACE. We’re still on target to fully implement ACE by the end of 2016.

Looking beyond our borders, CBP has initiated an extensive dialogue with the governments of Canada and Mexico on a proposed North American Single Window (NASW) Approach. In collaboration with our Canadian and Mexican counterparts, we’ve established a proposed common vision statement for the North American Single Window. This approach doesn’t involve interoperability of “systems;” instead, it focuses on greater alignment of cargo processing procedures in the region. 

I should note here, if I may, that CBP has also established a targeted Single Window implementation roadmap that proposes a phased international engagement strategy for 2016-2019. Naturally, as part of that effort, we’re sharing best practices with our foreign partners and international organizations –beyond North America. A critical next step in furthering this agenda is to formally commence the NASW trilateral working groups. CBP is eager to cultivate other countries’ interest in implementing their own Single Window approaches.

In closing, let me note that we are living in times of great change. Canada is under the leadership of a new Prime Minister, and in 50 days, we will know who will guide the U.S. government for the next 4 years. In January 2017, my tenure as Commissioner will end.

But I want to reassure you that even though there may be some post-election changes, CBP’s strong leadership team will ensure that the transition to a new government is seamless and that our important work will continue apace. I’m confident that the momentum we’ve created will continue to move us forward, together, because of the unshakeable foundation we have as good neighbors.

Thank you.

Last Modified: February 3, 2021