US: Canada aim to limit cargo inspections at border

The United States and Canada are working on a common approach to screening cargo from other countries so fewer shipments have to be re-inspected if they later cross the US-Canada border.

Canadian customs officials would inspect cargo at Canadian ports according to the harmonized standards so Customs and Border Protection doesn't have to inspect it again when it arrives in the United States via rail or highway.

The US and Canadian governments released a cargo security strategy Sept. 4 that outlines what they aim to harmonize. It says they expect to recognize each other's security technology, develop similar inspection facilities, and use common standards to seal and track cargo traveling between the two countries.

They also intend to make it a standard practice to acquire advance data about shipments before they leave their place of departure abroad. "Addressing risks at the earliest opportunity" is one of the core objectives of the strategy, part of an effort called Beyond the Border that the countries jointly undertook in 2011.

Collaborative efforts to implement nuclear-detection equipment and tamper-evident technologies, which show if anyone has had unauthorized access to a shipment, are planned as well.

A few pilot programs are already underway. For nearly a year, Canadian customs officials have been examining maritime shipments to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, that the US government has identified as high risk. When those shipments arrive in the United States, CBP officers know they don't need to conduct duplicate inspections. A similar pilot began in Montreal in January.

In another pilot, Canada is assessing tamper-evident seals that aim to show whether cargo is secure after its arrival in Canada during its transit to the United States.


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