News / USA

US, Canada Announce New Joint Border Effort

President Barack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper take part in a joint news conference after their meeting at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011
President Barack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper take part in a joint news conference after their meeting at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011

President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have announced a new joint effort to streamline cross-border trade they say will help both economies and enhance security.  

The new initiative is aimed at strengthening security along the border, increasing coordination and sharing of intelligence, and harmonizing regulations on the flow of food and manufactured goods.

Referred to as the North American security "perimeter," it involves use of advanced biometric technology to track travelers, and steps to eliminate burdensome regulatory barriers that Obama said can stifle trade and job creation.

Saying the goal is smarter border management, Obama said it's aimed at creating jobs and increasing economic growth on both sides of a border that sees more than $1 billion worth of trade crossing it each day.

"Working more closely to improve border security with better screening, new technologies and information sharing among law enforcement, as well as identifying threats early. It also means finding new ways to improve the free flow of goods and people," Obama said.

Joint border efforts have been controversial in Canada where Harper's government has faced criticism from the political opposition that Canadian sovereignty and privacy would be sacrificed.

The U.S. - Canada declaration includes a goal of an integrated entry-exit system, and enhanced cooperation to identify, prevent and counter violent extremism. It also pledges to create "joint privacy protection principles" and efforts to "promote principles of human rights, privacy and civil liberties."

Saying Canada and the U.S. share fundamental interests and values, and common challenges and threats, Harper said it is in both countries' interest to ensure that the border remains open and efficient, but also secure.

Harper responded this way to a Canadian reporter asking about criticism of the agreement in Canada.

"We are sovereign countries who have the capacity to act as we choose to act. The question that faces us is to make sure we act in a sovereign way that serves Canada's interest. It is in Canada's interest to work with our partners in the United States to ensure that our borders are secure, and ensure that we can trade and travel across them as safely and as openly as possible within the context of our different laws and that is what we are trying to achieve here," he said.

The U.S. and Canada signed a free trade agreement in 1988 aimed at removing barriers to free trade.  Since then, Harper noted, both countries have become each other's largest export market, with eight million U.S. jobs supported by trade with Canada.

Meanwhile, the White House on Friday put a positive spin on the latest U.S. government report on unemployment, which had good news with the jobless figure falling to 9 percent in the month of January.   

But overall the economy created only 36,000 jobs, far fewer than needed for sustained reductions in unemployment, and less than a quarter of what is required to keep pace with population growth.

Gene Sperling, who heads the president's National Economic Council, said that private sector payrolls increased by 50,000 and he pointed to "strong progress" in job creation in the manufacturing sector, which he attributed to President Obama's policies. "We do see in the manufacturing area and the places the president will be traveling, some good news and I think with some significant relation to the policies the president has implemented and proposed," he said.

The White House announced that Obama will travel next week, to Marquette, Michigan, to underscore the importance of an initiative mentioned in his State of the Union Address, an effort to make broadband wireless available to 80 percent of Americans in coming years.

The administration also formally rolled out what it calls "A Strategy for American Innovation," tied to  Obama's goal of making the United States competitive with other countries and creating jobs.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs