Customs Union?

Not to sound all conspiratorial or anything, but isn’t the so-called North American Security Perimeter that is apparently being negotiated behind closed doors by the Harper government and the Obama administration, essentially tantamount to formation of a Customs Union? From the precious few sketchy outlines that have been provided to the public so far, it would certainly seem to have most, if not all, the characteristics of such an economic arrangement.

I wonder how many Canadians are aware that we may be on the verge of entering into a Customs Union (abeit under the guise of another name) with our neighbour to the south? Or care… but that’s another matter.

Not to say that such a concept is necessarily a bad thing – indeed, there could be a lot of commercial benefits to streamlining the border through a comprehensive program of regulatory harmonization and the integration of our Customs administrations to the extent that would allow for a single point of entry into the region; steps that manufacturers and exporters on both sides of the border have been lobbying hard for – but surely the process of significantly restructuring the nature of our trade relationship in this way is deserving of more transparency and oversight than has been the case to date…

Well, that’s my basic gripe with these negotiations at this point in time – I would just like to know more exactly what is being proposed and how our respective governments plan on implementing their proposed solutions to what is amusingly referred to in the trade as “thickening” of the border mainly resulting from post 9/11 security concerns.

If it’s any consolation to those who may fear the prospect of a North American Security Perimeter immediately taking shape, you can relax… Based on my familiarity with the situation, I would guestimate implementation of this concept at the better part of a decade away; and that’s presuming the our respective border agencies are working at breakneck speed (relatively speaking) and are fully funded to undertake this project and bring it to completion – both quite unlikely to occur.