United States-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC): What the Joint Action Plan means for transportation

Washington, D.C.
7 December 2011

Transportation is a crucial component of the economies of Canada and the United States. The two countries share the longest land border in the world and have common access to three oceans, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Transportation must be safe, secure and efficient in order to move the people and goods upon which both countries depend.

With respect to transportation, the Joint Action Plan focuses regulatory reform efforts on surface, marine, and general transportation issues. Surface transportation (cars, trucks and trains) affects almost all aspects of the Canada-U.S. economic partnership. In this regard, enhanced regulatory cooperation will have wide-ranging benefits. Marine transportation refers to the waterways shared by Canada and the U.S. that are central to each country’s quality of life and economic health. Finally, there are other transportation issues where further regulatory cooperation would improve the competitiveness of businesses, facilitate cross-border trade, and foster a joint approach toward emerging transportation technology.

The Joint Action Plan proposes implementing the following:

Surface (road and rail)

Surface transportation (cars, trucks and trains) affects almost all aspects of the Canada-U.S. economic partnership. Canadian and American railways carried more than 13.7 million containers and trailers in 2010. In this regard, greater harmonization of vehicle safety standards in such areas as side impact and ejection mitigation will reduce production and design costs, will facilitate the considerable cross-border trade in vehicles and parts, and will ultimately make the North American automobile manufacturing sector more competitive on the world stage. Similarly, further harmonizing regulatory rail safety regimes will make this mode of transportation more efficient, allow for easier flow of cargo, and help enhance the safety and reliability of both countries’ rail systems.

In this regard, the Joint Action Plan proposes to:

  • Align existing motor vehicle safety standards, beginning with side impact and ejection mitigation standards;
  • Establish a common regulatory agenda for all new motor vehicle safety standards;
  • Work together to develop regulations and standards to fully support the integration of intelligent transportation systems; and
  • More closely align rail safety standards and jointly conduct periodic reviews of regulations.

Marine

Harmonizing Canadian and American marine regulatory regimes will ensure that marine transportation remains a source of employment for more than 13 million Canadians and Americans, and that the sector will remain a key component of economic growth. Facilitating the flow of bilateral trade via further aligned regulations will also contribute to the competitiveness of the North American marine shipping industry by allowing goods to be shipped to markets in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

With respect to marine transportation, the Joint Action Plan proposes to:

  • Establish a Canada-U.S. safety and security framework for the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system to streamline regulatory requirements;
  • Align the marine transportation security requirements;
  • Align recreational boat manufacturing standards and harmonize monitoring and compliance regimes; and
  • Move to a common standard for lifejackets, and consider developing mutual recognition arrangements for other marine safety equipment.

Other Issues

There are other transportation issues, such as standards pertaining to the containment of dangerous goods and unmanned aircraft systems, where further regulatory cooperation would improve the competitiveness of businesses, facilitate cross-border trade, and foster a joint approach toward emerging transportation technology.

The Joint Action Plan proposes to:

  • Better align Canadian and U.S. standards on the containment of dangerous goods; and
  • Share experiences related to unmanned aircraft systems, to align future regulatory approaches.

More details on these and other Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan measures are available at http://actionplan.gc.ca/border.

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