US, Canada agree to improve border security
Updated: 2011-02-05 08:47
WASHINGTON - The United States and Canada agreed on Friday to improve border security to make it secure and smooth for better flow of goods and services.
US President Barack Obama held talks with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the White House, with the focus on trade between the two neighbors.
"Canada is our largest trading partner and the top destination for American exports, supporting some 1.7 million jobs here," Obama told reporters after the talks. "So today we've agreed to several important steps to increase trade, improve our competitiveness and create jobs for both our people."
The two leaders agreed to work more closely to improve border security with better screening, new technologies, information-sharing and early identification of threats.
"It also means finding new ways to improve the free flow of goods and people, because with over a billion dollars in trade crossing the border every single day, smarter border management is key to our competitiveness, our job creation and my goal of doubling US exports," Obama said.
Halfway through his presidency, Obama focuses on boosting growth and job creation at home to seek reelection in 2012.
Obama said he and Harper are aiming to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle trade and job creation, and discussed a wide range of ways to promote trade and investment, "from clean energy partnerships to the steps Canada can take to strengthen intellectual property rights."
Harper said that it was in the interests of both sides "to ensure that our common border remains open and efficient, but it is just as critical that it remains secure and in the hands of the vigilant and the dedicated."
"So we commit to expanding our management of the border to the concept of a North American perimeter, not to replace or eliminate the border but, where possible, to streamline and decongest it," said Harper.
A declaration issued by the two leaders said they intend to "pursue a perimeter approach to security, working together within, at, and away from the borders of our two countries to enhance our security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between our two countries."
"We intend to do so in partnership, and in ways that support economic competitiveness, job creation and prosperity," the statement added.
Obama and Harper have directed the creation of a US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC), composed of senior regulatory, trade, and foreign affairs officials from both governments.
"In recognition of our one trillion dollars annual trade and investment relationship, the RCC has a two-year mandate to work together to promote economic growth, job creation and benefits to our consumers and businesses through increased regulatory transparency and coordination," the two leaders said in a joint statement.
They have directed the RCC to convene its first meeting within 90 days, the statement said.
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