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The United States and Canada Announce Progress in Regulatory Cooperation

Summary: 
The Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council releases the first Progress Report on the Council’s efforts to date. U.S. and Canadian representatives have found creative ways to work together to promote economic growth and cut red tape, as well as improve health, safety, and environmental protections for our citizens.

Today the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) is presenting President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper with the first Progress Report on the Council’s efforts to date. The RCC was launched by the President and Prime Minister Harper just over a year ago to deliver benefits to U.S. and Canadian citizens in the form of smarter, more effective regulations that enhance the economic competitiveness and well-being of our two countries, while maintaining high standards of public health and safety and environmental protection. This report, which provides an update on the regulatory cooperation work done under the RCC to date, also marks the one-year anniversary of the RCC Joint Action Plan.

As RCC co-chair, I’m pleased to report that significant progress has been made over the last twelve months under the Action Plan to improve regulatory cooperation between Canada and the United States. Throughout the 29 work plans – which cover areas as diverse as food and agriculture, motor vehicles, rail safety, emissions reduction, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and nanotechnology – U.S. and Canadian representatives have found creative ways to work together to promote economic growth and cut red tape, as well as improve health, safety, and environmental protections for our citizens.

This cooperation has taken many forms, from scientific and technical collaboration and work sharing to collaboration in standards setting and regulatory alignment. Specific examples of progress achieved over the past year include:

  • Pilot projects for simultaneous submissions to regulators in both countries for approval of crop protection products (see the related work plan here);
  • In the area of veterinary drugs, simultaneous reviews by U.S. and Canadian regulators for several drug submissions (read more about this work here); 
  • A pilot project for the joint inspection of non-U.S. and non-Canadian flagged vessels entering the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway, focusing on maritime security and pollution prevention, and monitoring living and working conditions for workers on these ships (learn more here); and
  • Proposed automotive regulations that would align U.S. and Canadian rules on tire safety and occupant restraint systems in frontal impact collisions (read more about an upcoming meeting to gather public input on next steps here).

For too long, unnecessary differences between U.S. and Canadian regulatory approaches have posed hurdles for our businesses and increased costs for consumers. Through the Obama and Harper Administrations’ efforts with the RCC, we have spurred an unprecedented range of cooperation in addressing these differences. We are also working to understand the underlying causes of these misalignments so that we can prevent them in the future.

Do we have more work to do? Of course. Regulatory cooperation is time- and resource-intensive, and it takes a strong commitment to keep the momentum going.  The Obama Administration has made an ambitious commitment to promoting international regulatory cooperation and we know that commitment is shared by our Canadian counterparts. We look forward to continuing implementation with Canada on the 29 items in the Action Plan as we move forward into 2013.

But we cannot do it alone. We very much appreciate the stakeholder community’s interest in and commitment to the work of the RCC, and we hope that you will continue to provide us with ideas and hold us accountable for producing tangible results. Please continue sending us your feedback at international-oira@omb.eop.gov and if you want to receive RCC updates, go to www.trade.gov or email us at rcc@trade.gov. We look forward to announcing additional opportunities for stakeholder engagement in the coming months.

Boris Bershteyn is the Acting Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.