Isabel Sackner-Bernstein is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She is studying Strategic Communication at Elon University.
The United States and Canada share more than just a border, and I’m not talking about the dual citizenship of famous pop star, Justin Bieber. The two countries share common values, deep links among their citizens, and deeply rooted economic ties.
To improve this already strong relationship, President Obama and Primer Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border initiative (BTB) in 2011. BTB programs, developed by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will create effective solutions to manage the flow of traffic across our shared borders. The BTB initiative has already helped U.S. travelers and businesses by reducing wait times at the border.
These reduced wait times will also support our trade relationship, reducing the time and cost of shipping goods across the border.
One of the programs linked to this initiative is the NEXUS program. It allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay across the border from Canada or the United States. NEXUS membership has increased by nearly 50 percent since BTB’s announcement in 2011, and NEXUS enrolled its one-millionth member in July 2014.
NEXUS isn’t the only BTB program that is making the U.S.-Canada border crossing easier and more secure. Below are a few of the BTB accomplishments to date:
- The Integrated Cargo Security Strategy was developed to resolve security and contraband concerns as early as possible in the supply chain.
- The U.S.-Canada Visa and Immigration Information-Sharing Agreement enables Canada and the United States to share information on third-country nationals who apply for a visa or permit to travel in either country. This enhances the safety and security of Americans and Canadians.
- Increased and harmonized value thresholds for expedited customs clearance to $2,000 which reduces the administrative burden on businesses and reduces transaction costs for trade by millions of dollars each year.
So why does the BTB initiative matter to you or your company? Here are some key facts about the U.S.-Canada relationship that help explain the importance of BTB:
The United States and Canada have the largest trading relationship in the world. More than $1 billion in trade cross our shared border each day;
- Canada is one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in the U.S. economy and vice versa; and,
- More than 350,000 people cross our shared border each day for work, school, tourism, and to visit family and friends.
Now imagine all those people and products crossing the border every day. BTB is working to make that journey easier for thousands of people so that trade and travel can flourish in both the United States and Canada.
We look forward to the BTB initiative helping Canada become an even more attractive market for U.S. exporters! If you’re ready to explore Canada as a potential market, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center!