The United States and Canadian governments announced Wednesday that border security measures would be relaxed to help speed trade between the two countries.
Improvements will be made to the Free And Secure Trade program that allow faster processing for commercial carriers who have already completed background checks and sharing of information in advance of arrivals, according to CBC News.
Slowdowns in border crossings cost the economy $16 billion a year, according to estimates. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper hailed Wednesday’s agreement as the most significant step forward in cooperation with the U.S. since the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Business leaders shared the enthusiasm.
“Any harmonization or synchronization of the governments and their processes, whether it’s Canada, the U.S. or Mexico, will help us in closing that supply chain, making sure all the links work together,” Steve Ondejeko, president of On Freight Logistics, told the news outlet.
Each year, approximately $390 billion in trade takes place between the U.S. and Canada. Nearly a third of that, about $130 billion, crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.
The bridge itself, which is privately owned, has been the subject of recent international scrutiny. Also on Wednesday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that its owner, Matty Moroun, breached a deal with the state to build ramps. Moroun has been trying to thwart statewide efforts to build a public crossing.
Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard examined the Ambassador Bridge fiasco in this story for The Atlantic Cities last month.