Canadian businesses call for change to NAFTA rules for travellers

Canadian and US business groups have issued calls to modernise NAFTA rules for business travellers. Efficiency issues at the border have delayed movement of skilled workers hindering trade.

Canadian and US business travel news
As talks get underway in Washington to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) and US based Council for Global Immigration (CFGI), are calling for improvements in border processes and a modernisation of the rules that permit professionals and businesspeople to cross the Canada US border for employment purposes.

Ensuring flexible mobility

According to Lynn Shotwell, Executive director of CFGI, “Timely, predictable and flexible labour mobility is critical to employers’ ability to meet their business objectives. NAFTA renegotiation provides an opportunity to make border crossings more efficient.”A recent survey conducted by CERC and CFGI of their respective members, many of whom represent some of North America’s largest employers, uncovered some of the key obstacles that cause untold delays at border crossings, leading to lost productivity in both countries. More than 400,000 people cross the border every day.Of employers surveyed, more than half (53 per cent) reported that their employees have experienced delays unrelated to travel volumes when crossing into Canada, and 61 per cent reported delays when crossing into the US.Inconsistent decision-making by border officials was identified as the most common reason for delays, with 76 per cent of employers citing this for employees entering the US and 67 per cent citing this for employees entering Canada.

Efficiency issues hindering skilled workers

“Restrictions and delays with the movement of skilled workers, significantly hinder trade and stifle business growth. With an integrated supply chain, across virtually all sectors of the economy, the movement of highly skilled workers is critical”, said Stephen Cryne, president and CEO of CERC.Employers also feel that border officials lack sufficient training and resources to effectively and expeditiously adjudicate applications for entry: 58 per cent of employers feel this to be the case with US border officials and 46 per cent feel this to be the case with Canadian border officials.Most of the employers surveyed feel that the current NAFTA Professionals list, which is intended to facilitate the movement of professionals and skilled workers, is out-dated for their workforce needs.That list, compiled over 20 years ago, has only been updated on two occasions. CERC and CFGI are calling for a major overhaul to bring the list up to date, and for a formal mechanism to regularly review and update the list with input from industry.The Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the mobility and deployment of human capital, which are vitally important to Canada’s future prosperity.
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Established in 1982, CERC represents the interests of its members on workforce mobility matters. Many of CERC’s members are listed in Canada’s Financial Post Top 500.The Council for Global Immigration (formerly known as the American Council on InternationalPersonnel), an affiliate of SHRM, is comprised of leading multinational corporations, universities, and research institutions committed to advancing the employment-based immigration of highly educated professionals.The Council bridges the public and private sectors to promote sensible, forward-thinking policies that fuel innovation and foster global talent mobility.For related news and features visit our Immigration sectionAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory

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