Monday, March 15, 2010

Border Frustration

And there we have it – another dream dashed. The Canadian business community looked across the Atlantic and envied the open borders of the European Union. Imagine shipping materials and products between countries in a virtually hassle-free method. Every day, more than $1.5 billion in goods crosses the border between the U.S. and Canada. Thanks to the near state of panic of the American government, entering the United States has never been more difficult.

To be fair, the U.S. has cause to be concerned. The American nation is probably the number one target of terrorists worldwide. However, many have asked if the overly stringent security measures are not being employed in the wrong places. Are U.S. security measures doing more harm than good?

Take a look, for example, at the Great Lakes shared by Canada and the U.S. At the same time that kindly old grandmothers are having their belongings thoroughly searched, prior to being exposed to full body scans, a low level terrorist, with limited resources and minimal effort, can cross an open body of water between the countries in a canoe.

The auto industry, already in a troubled state, is suffering terribly from U.S. border restrictions. A foreign auto company can import 4,000 vehicles to the U.S. with a single customs clearance. On the other hand, the same number of vehicles manufactured in joint U.S./Canada ventures – where the complete assembly process may involve up to seven border crossings due to the integration of the supply chain – require almost 28,000 customs and security clearances!

For many of us who remember entering the U.S. many years ago using a library card for identification, those days are long gone. Passports are now required and lengthy, sometimes infuriating lines are now commonplace. As Europe moves to a common currency and mutual trust, the U.S. is building a deep moat around its castle.

The economic and commercial links between Canada and the U.S. are far too intertwined to ignore. As such, perhaps the nations' leaders should be searching for ways to punish the terrorists without punishing the innocent bystanders.
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