The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce wishes to express its unreserved support for a bi-national pre-clearance initiative at the Peace Bridge. The GNCC has worked hard for many years on measures to thin the border between Canada and the United States, particularly in Niagara, recognizing the importance of international trade to our economy.
According the Ontario Chamber of Commerce report Easing the Choke Points, delays and congestion at the borders are having a dramatic impact on the economy. The report projects that continued delays at border crossing will amount to 17,345 lost jobs by 2020 and 91,194 by 2030. Currently, delays at the border are requiring manufacturers to increase inventory at a cost of over $1 million per hour.
A study from the Universities of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier showed that delays at border crossings have an annual impact of $15 to $30 billion on the Canadian economy. Over 70% of the value of Canada’s international trade travelling by road flows into the United States across Ontario borders. Goods exported to the United States are worth over $300 billion; goods imported are worth almost $350 billion a year. Cross-border trade volume has increased more than 200% each way since the introduction of NAFTA.
Niagara is a key corridor for movement between Canada and the U.S., accounting for nearly 30% of all Canada-U.S. trade. As the OCC highlighted in its report, Niagara is the second busiest trade crossing in Ontario and the busiest for passenger vehicles. The Peace Bridge between Buffalo and Fort Erie is also the third busiest bridge crossing for inter-country trucking in Ontario.
Because of the importance of the Peace Bridge and the impact of delays, in February 2014, a truck cargo pre-inspection pilot program was launched. This pilot project worked very well, and had major success in reducing wait times at the border. With the designation of Niagara as a foreign trade zone point, the importance of efficiency at the border becomes even more important, as the FTZ will attract precisely the kind of business that requires expedient access to the US.
At their meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama vowed to make trade and traffic easier between their two countries. All that remains is for legislators in both countries to make pre-clearance a permanent reality. We urge all those in receipt of this letter of support to petition those in government to make this decision.
President & CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the champion for the Niagara business community. With over 1,500 members representing more than 45,000 employees, it is the largest business organization in Niagara and the third largest Chamber in Ontario.