Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Benefits Both Countries

By Scott Brison

Canada and the United States have developed the most highly integrated economies in the world, with shared supply chains in every sector. Our two countries depend on each other for our mutual prosperity, trading some $2.5 billion worth of goods and services every day.

Our Government is committed to building on this remarkable relationship to support the millions of good, middle-class jobs on both sides of the border that depend on trade between our two countries. Businesses large and small stand to gain when they have access to both markets. Consumers do too.

As befits two sovereign nations, Canadian and American regulations, and the activities that support them, have developed independently of each other. Yet despite often sharing the same regulatory goals – including the protection of our environment, health and safety – in too many instances industry faces differing sets of rules and processes. These differences, often small or outdated, burden business, add to the retail price paid by consumers and impede economic growth.

That is why Canada and the U.S. established the Regulatory Cooperation Council in 2011. It’s a voluntary, low-cost initiative that helps reduce trade-hindering administrative and compliance burdens for business. The Council fosters alignment across a range of regulatory activities, such as the development of standards, inspections, certification, testing, product approvals, and monitoring of products on the market.

Sixteen Canadian and U.S. agencies currently participate, with mandates that span key sectors including transportation, agriculture and food, chemicals, energy, and pharmaceuticals. Together, they continue to produce numerous success stories. Since the inception of Canada-U.S. regulatory cooperation, these efforts have raised — not lowered — the bar.

Harmonization of energy efficiency standards for household appliances and commercial equipment, for example, will save Canadians about $1.8 billion in energy costs by 2030 even as American manufacturers save money by not having to test their products twice. More efficient, less polluting rail locomotives will be coming to Canada as we harmonize up to U.S. standards, while electronic stability control systems for heavy transport are coming in the 2021 model year.

And in May 2015, a single and strengthened standard for a new class of rail tank car for flammable liquids was approved in both Canada and the U.S., the result of collaboration on both sides of the border. This joint standard will help ensure the safety of our interconnected rail networks.

Health Canada will soon begin a pilot project to allow sunscreens that have already undergone rigorous approvals and testing in the U.S. to come across the border freely without being quarantined and tested for a second time. This initiative will give Canadians access to a wider array of sunscreen products just in time for summer.

Our countries have a long, successful record of working together to identify and eliminate needless regulatory differences, whether it’s developing transport safety standards, conducting joint inspections of vessels that travel across our shared waters, or providing industry with a single window to submit product reviews.

The February 13, 2017, Joint Statement from Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump included a strong expression of support for continued bilateral regulatory cooperation. I followed up with an engaging meeting on the subject at the White House with Mick Mulvaney, my U.S. counterpart leading the Office of Management and Budget. There is an opportunity for our countries to deepen and expand the work begun under the Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Our two countries have much in common. Our partnership is based on common history, culture, shared geography and values. We enjoy the longest, most peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship of any two countries in the world. I see regulatory cooperation as an important opportunity in this relationship. It is a means, first of all, to safeguard critical domestic priorities — health, safety and the environment — while reducing unnecessary burdens on businesses, lowering retail prices for consumers, and creating good, middle-class jobs.

Scott Brison is President of the Treasury Board