In the Financial Post, some well known trade experts argue for deeper Canada - U.S. integration:
That a big idea on Canada-U.S. trade is needed there is little doubt.
"We reached the high point in the year 2000 in volume in terms of trucks and human traffic," Mr. Hart says.
While security concerns since Sept. 11, 2001, have led to a thickening of the border between Canada and the United States, raising costs and creating delays for both goods and people, the main problem is neither country has accepted it needs to move beyond "trade policy" toward a new "integration policy," the experts argue.
From a common security perimeter to common regulation, it is time Canada-U.S. trade grew up. As Europe embraces the concept of mutual recognition of regulations and Asia speeds toward freer trade, the biggest trading relationship in the world is increasingly bogged down.
"Canada and the United States don't really trade with each other any more; they build things together," Mr. Hart says.
The point really hit home during the BSE crisis, Mr. Hart says. A calf may be born in Alberta, but it is sent to Montana to eat grass, back to an Alberta feedlot to get fattened up and on to Chicago to get butchered. That is why tracing the infected meat was so important.
That is also why one North American food standard would make sense.
Mr. Hufbauer argues Canada would benefit from simply adopting large swathes of U.S. regulation.
Mr. Hart points out as the gold standard in drug regulation, U.S. Food and Drug Administration employs 10,000 people and spend billions of dollars vetting drugs. Yet Canada feels it has to employ another 985 people to second-guess the FDA. The result? Drug approval can take years longer, denying Canadians potentially life-saving drugs.
He adds two-thirds of Canadian regulatory standards are not as tough as U.S. standards and carry far lower liability costs. Mr. Hufbauer says common Canadian and U.S. standards could cover at least 90% of the trade in food products.
"After all, 30 million Canadians and Americans eat in the other country during their annual travels," he says.
A new trade integration campaign is badly needed. "This needs political momentum, this needs political leadership, this needs to be put of the top of the Canada-U.S. agenda," Mr. Hart says.
More at the link. I'm not sure what the reaction to these proposals will be. There could be a good deal of concern on both sides of the border. Whether such proposals are at all feasible could depend on the form they take (e.g., binding rules or simple cooperation).