U.S. and Canada inch closer to aligning trade-related regulations

Joint efforts aim to end business impediments in agriculture, transportation, medicine and manufacturing

A joint U.S.-Canadian commission tasked with breaking down regulatory barriers to cross-border trade says it is making progress in several key areas.

No regulations have actually been revised in either country, but pilot programs are headed in that direction, according to the progress report (.pdf) issued this Dec. 14 by the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Formation of the council was announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in February 2011, with a joint action plan following in December 2011.

A year later, here's some of what has transpired through the group's 29 work plans, according to a White House blog post by Boris Bershteyn, acting administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and co-chair of the council:

  • Pilot projects for regulatory approval of crop-protection products.
  • Simultaneous regulatory reviews for several veterinary drug approval requests.
  • A pilot project for joint inspection of non-U.S.- or Canadian-flagged vessels entering the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Seaway, focused on maritime security and pollution prevention, and monitoring crew members' living and working conditions.
  • Proposed automotive regulations aligning U.S. and Canadian rules on tire safety and occupant-restraint systems in frontal-impact collisions.

The group also is looking at unifying the two countries' approach to regulating nanomaterials and nanotechnology, the progress report notes.

Other areas being targeted include food and meat safety, food testing, and export certification for meat and poultry products; motor-vehicle safety standards, rail safety standards and intelligent transportation systems; hazardous materials transport and unmanned aerial systems; vehicle and locomotive emissions; approval and licensing of over-the-counter drugs; Good Manufacturing Practices and regulation of workplace hazards; and small-business regulations.

"For too long, unnecessary differences between U.S. and Canadian regulatory approaches have posed hurdles for our businesses and increased costs for consumers," Bershteyn wrote. The council's work includes examining "underlying causes of these misalignments so that we can prevent them in the future," he added.

For more:
-download the progress report (.pdf) -read Bershteyn's blog post

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