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Stakeholders in Border Traffic Discuss Easing Delays

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Key stakeholders involved in making sure goods easily move across the international border will meet in Niagara-on-the-Lake this week to discuss post-9/11 trade issues.

There are competing interests when it comes to cross-border trade. Security officials want to make sure that people and goods which pose a threat are stopped at the border. And that requires more intense inspections, and quite often, delays. Yet, businesses say they need to get their goods to market on a timely basis.

Earl Rowe, a former Peace Bridge executive who is now a transportation consultant, says both nations are committed to coming up with viable solutions.

"We've witnessed in the past year a great consolidation of security interests in the homeland security department. That's a massive institutional change, which will take some time to work out. Similar changes are occuring on the Canadian side," Rowe said. "The real purpose here is to make sure that all the people who are involved understand all the expectations in order to make it work."

Right now, says Rowe, the two-way flow of trade between the U.S. and Canada averages $1.3 dollars a day. And 99 percent of that trade is legal. Rowe said the government, trade, transportation and manufacturing officials gathering for this week's conference will discuss ways of managing the border, securely and wisely.

"The key thing is is that there are processes, procedures and technology that will allow what formerly went on at the border take place away from the border," Rowe said.

Rowe said the introduction of the NEXUS program, which will allow pre-approved, low-risk travelers to move back-and-forth across the border without inspection, is a step in the right direction.