Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Government of Canada Seeking Comments from Stakeholders on Canada-US Regulatory Issues

On March 27, 2010, Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade announced in The Canada Gazette, Volume 144, No. 13 that it is seeking comments on North America Regulatory Cooperation. The deadline for submission of comments is May 26, 2010. The announcement reads:

REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS ON FUTURE AREAS FOR NORTH AMERICAN REGULATORY COOPERATION

The Government of Canada is seeking the views of Canadians to identify areas where increased cooperation between Canada, the United States and Mexico could reduce significant regulatory-based differences that pose actual or potential barriers to Canadian competitiveness.

This notice is part of the Government of Canada’s domestic consultation process with business, citizen-based organizations and individual Canadians, as well as with provincial and territorial governments to obtain advice and views on priorities, objectives and concerns to help outline the parameters of this initiative.

Background

Within the North American free trade area, regulatory-based differences can represent a significant obstacle to competitiveness, innovation and overall economic performance. At the August 2007 North American Leaders Summit in Montebello, Leaders endorsed the Regulatory Cooperation Framework (RCF) as a mechanism to promote regulatory cooperation between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The RCF serves as a forum to strengthen regulatory cooperation between the three countries, streamline regulations and regulatory processes and encourage the compatibility of regulations. By promoting compatible approaches to regulatory impact assessment, cost-benefit analysis and other policy tools, the RCF helps reduce the likelihood that new regulations will become new barriers to trade.

In a joint statement on August 10, 2009, at the North American Leaders Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, Prime Minister Harper, President Obama and President Calderón reinforced their commitment to regulatory cooperation stating “We commend the progress achieved on reducing unnecessary regulatory differences and have instructed our respective Ministers to continue this work by building on the previous efforts, developing focused priorities and a specific timeline.”

Regulatory-based differences may arise through differing approaches to regulating a certain product in order to address a wide range of public policy objectives. Such divergences can lead to increased costs and burdens on Canadian suppliers, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises. Regulatory cooperation has improved the identification of alternative approaches to addressing common problems and objectives, often enabling more rapid responses when regulatory action is needed. In addition to facilitating the creation of better regulations in North America, cooperation can reduce the costs to suppliers in dealing with differences in regulations. Making divergent regulatory approaches designed to achieve the same objective more compatible, while promoting and maintaining high standards of health, safety and environmental protection, simplifies and reduces the cost of regulatory compliance for Canadian suppliers.

This request for information is limited to proposals that identify opportunities for greater regulatory cooperation to reduce the incidence and magnitude of trade irritants caused by existing or proposed regulatory measures that apply to goods (as opposed to measures that exclusively affect services and investment activities). These could include standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures for industrial and agricultural products, as well as sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Submissions by interested parties

The Government is embarking on a public consultation process to allow all interested stakeholders an early opportunity to provide comments, input and advice on future areas that could benefit from greater North American regulatory cooperation. We welcome advice and views on any priorities, objectives and concerns relating to greater regulatory cooperation with the United States and Mexico.

All interested parties are invited to submit their proposals by May 26, 2010. Please be advised that any information received as a result of this consultation will be considered public information, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Each proposal for greater North American regulatory cooperation should be as specific as possible, and contain, if possible, the following elements:

a. The contributor’s name and address and if applicable, his/her organization, institution or business;

b. Identification of the type of product or the product sector;

c. A description of the regulatory measures or types of measures that could benefit from regulatory cooperation (including, if possible, a copy of the measure or relevant documentation);

d. Identification of the key markets in North America for the product or product sector that is affected by the measure or type of measure;

e. A proposal to increase regulatory cooperation (e.g. information-sharing, technical assistance, mutual recognition agreements, collaboration by regulators prior to the initiation of rulemaking, harmonization of particular standards or technical regulations, or recognition of test laboratories);

f. A description of how the proposal, if implemented, would facilitate trade;

g. Any information related to the feasibility of the proposal (e.g. costs, legal constraints, or anticipated reaction to the proposal from stakeholders or trading partners);

h. Precise information on the rationale for the positions taken, including any significant impact it may have on Canada’s domestic or foreign interests;

i. Potential benefits that would result from the proposed regulatory cooperation activity or other action; and

j. Any other relevant information.

Please note that interested parties submitting proposals regarding potential areas where greater regulatory cooperation would be beneficial to trade should, whenever possible, seek to work with their counterparts in the United States and/or Mexico on joint submissions.

Contributions can be sent by email to consultations@international.gc.ca, by fax at 613-943-0346, or by mail to Technical Barriers and Regulations Division (TBT), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 111 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2.

This is a significant opportunity for Canadian businesses. There are many issues that restrict, limit, constrict and impact negatively on trade and opportunities. Participating in this process may be the single most important activity for Canadian businesses as they look for ways to increase exports to the United States and market access to U.S. consumers.

For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-3074168.

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