CANADA SURVEY: NAFTA TRADE VOLUME HAS NOT SLOWED CUSTOMS PROCESSING

CANADA SURVEY: NAFTA TRADE VOLUME HAS NOT SLOWED CUSTOMS PROCESSING

Most Canadian businesses say their shipments have been clearing customs in a reasonable amount of time since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect Jan. 1, according to a survey by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The survey said most companies reported few delays despite a strong surge in the volume of trade in North America.Canada-U.S. trade increased more than 20 percent in 1994 and recently reached US$740 million (C$1 billion) a day. Two-way Canada-Mexico trade rose more than 25 percent in 1994 and is continuing to grow.

Taken as a whole, the results - some 500 of 2,000 companies responded to the survey - are "generally positive," the chamber said.

The survey said a "significant" minority indicated they were experiencing delays that were hurting their ability to do business.

The most frequently cited cause of delays at Canadian customs was a shortage of staff and busy border crossings. This was mentioned as an important problem as well with U.S. and Mexican customs.

Nevertheless, more than three quarters of the businesses that responded found no difference in the time it takes for shipments to clear Canadian, U.S. and Mexican customs.

Of the remainder, a somewhat greater proportion found their shipments cleared Canadian and U.S. customs faster, while 13.6 percent found clearing Mexican customs took longer. Only 4.9 percent found clearing Mexican customs took less time.

"In any event, a majority of respondents indicated that since Nafta, border delays have not intensified," the chamber said.

It expressed optimism that as ongoing customs reforms are implemented and with further automation of operations, there will be fewer delays.