Commercial trucks crossing the U.S. border into Canada have been given a reprieve: The Canada Border Services Agency won’t begin assessing fines or refusing entries to trucks and drivers not meeting eManifest requirements until May.
The program officially began Nov. 1, but the Canadian border agency is giving trucking companies and their customers a six-month grace period to get used to the new reporting requirements.
The third phase of Canada’s Advance Commercial Information program, eManifest requires highway carriers transporting goods into Canada to transmit cargo and conveyance data electronically to the CBSA prior to arrival. The cargo and conveyance data must be received and validated by the CBSA a minimum of one hour before the shipment arrives at the border.
The first two phases of ACI require air and ocean carriers to electronically transmit pre-arrival cargo and conveyance information to the Canadian authorities.
Agency officials say the program is about getting the right information at the right time to enhance their ability to identify potential threats to Canada, while facilitating the movement of low-risk shipments across the border.
“Trusted trader programs, such as the Free and Secure Trade program, the Customs Self Assessment program, and the Commercial Driver Registration Program, will continue to exist with the implementation of eManifest and will complement the systems and processes that will be put in place by eManifest,” the agency said.
Canada is the largest customer for a majority of U.S. farm products, including fresh fruits, vegetables and meat products. Virtually all the billions in the perishables trade is carried by truck. Some shippers had expressed concern that glitches with implementing the new program could exacerbate congestion issues at border entry points.
Large U.S. trucking companies, including Con-way Express, and FedEx Freight, say they are already fully compliant with eManifest requirements.
Ashnish Gill, the CEO of Light Speed Logistics, a refrigerated truck operation based in Montreal, said there is reason to be concerned about new regulations going into effect. “Border officials on each side aren’t using very much common sense in enforcement rules,” he said. “As time goes on, the situation gets worse.”
Gill said a good example is one U.S. driver turned away at the border recently by Canadian officials. “This driver had a DUI when he was 19. Now that he’s 40, they won’t let him cross the border? He was a teenager then and a grandfather now. It really isn’t believable that he is a security concern because of a DUI 21 years ago,” he said.
Common sense, he said, should dictate some sort of statute of limitations on those type offenses.
Transportation and border regulations are adding problems without making the border safer, he said. “This is hurting trade, and it makes it harder to hire drivers.”
He said Light Speed hires 40 new drivers a year. “For nine out of every 10 drivers we interview, their first question is ‘Do I have to cross the border?’ They just don’t want the hassle.”
Gill said it wasn’t possible to single out one government as worse than the other. “There are problems on both sides,” he said.
Carriers with questions about using an electronic data interchange option or setting up access through the eManifest Portal can get more information at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/manif/faq-eng.html#q1.
The Nov. 6 elections brought some good news for U.S.-Canada surface trade. Voters in Michigan rejected a proposal that could have stopped a new commercial bridge from being built between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The ballot measure would have amended Michigan’s constitution to force a statewide vote on any international border crossings.
That could have thwarted the Canadian government’s deal with Michigan to build a new bridge across the Detroit River. Ottawa has agreed to foot the bill for the new crossing, which would compete with the existing, privately owned Ambassador Bridge.
Matty Moroun, the billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge, spent millions of dollars fighting the construction of a new border span and funding ads supporting the ballot measure.
Contact Stephanie Nall at stephnalljoc.gmail.com.