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U.S., Canada Detail Plans for Regulatory Cooperation

Monday, December 12, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council established last February released last week a joint action plan detailing the ways the two countries will seek to increase regulatory transparency and coordination. “Unnecessary regulatory differences and duplicative actions hinder cross-border trade and investment and ultimately impose a cost on our citizens, businesses, and economies,” the plan states. “Given the integrated nature of our economies, greater alignment and better mutual reliance in our regulatory approaches would lead to lower costs for consumers and businesses, create more efficient supply chains, increase trade and investment, generate new export opportunities, and create jobs on both sides of the border.”

This initial joint action plan has been designed to focus on a limited number of initiatives where “meaningful and lasting progress” can be made in the near term. Unlike a bilateral economic and security plan also released last week, however, the regulatory cooperation plan does not identify specific timeframes for accomplishing any of the identified tasks. Instead, working groups of relevant agency officials will develop and implement work plans, timelines and deliverables.

The regulatory cooperation plan focuses on the following areas.

Food Safety

• develop common approaches to food safety, in light of food safety modernization efforts in both countries, to jointly enhance the safety of the food supply and minimize the need for routine food safety surveillance inspection activities in each other’s country

• enhance equivalence agreements for meat safety systems to streamline, simplify and, where possible, reduce import and administrative procedures while maintaining public health outcomes

• establish mutual reliance on jointly acceptable food safety laboratory recognition criteria, test results and methodologies to ensure food safety laboratory testing conducted in one country is acceptable to regulators in both countries and facilitate cross-utilization of laboratory results by industry and regulators

• streamline the certification requirements for meat and poultry including, where possible, the reduction or elimination of redundant certification, data elements and administrative procedures for shipments flowing between the U.S. and Canada

Agricultural Production

• further align crop protection product (e.g., pesticides) approvals and establishment of maximum pesticide residue limits/tolerances in both countries

• further align marketing application submission and review processes for veterinary drugs, including efforts to establish identical maximum drug residue limits/tolerances in both countries

• develop a perimeter approach to plant protection with a view to leveraging each country’s efforts to mutual advantage and, where possible, streamline certification requirements for cross-border shipments

• work toward a common approach to zoning of foreign animal diseases


• ensure greater alignment of existing motor vehicle safety standards, notably by developing a lasting approach to align and adopt motor vehicle standards that take into account each country’s safety risks and needs

• work together toward further alignment of the side impact and ejection mitigation standards

• study areas where standards are not aligned (identification of controls and displays, daytime running lamps and occupant protection) with a view to determining where greater collaboration in the standards development process could have been applied to have avoided this divergence, and adapt and fix standard setting processes accordingly

• establish a common collaborative regulatory standard setting agenda for all new motor vehicle safety standards (e.g., rear camera, electric and alternative energy vehicles, quiet cars)

• work together on the development of regulations and standards to fully support the integration of intelligent transportation systems

• align rail safety standards and establish a joint mechanism to conduct periodic review of regulations

• align marine transportation security requirements to prevent duplication of services and remove impediments to cross-border operations

• move to a common standard for lifejackets and consider developing mutual recognition arrangements for other marine safety equipment

• work to better align U.S. and Canadian standards on the containment of dangerous goods

Health and Personal Care Products

• implement a common electronic submission gateway to allow industry applicants the ability to submit large electronic documents related to pharmaceutical products simultaneously to the FDA and Health Canada and further catalyze increased review and collaboration on these products between the two agencies

• enhance collaboration on enforcement and compliance by increasing mutual reliance on each other’s routine surveillance good manufacturing practices inspection reports of manufacturing facilities for drugs and personal products

Workplace Chemicals

• align and synchronize implementation of common classification and labeling requirements for workplace hazardous chemicals within the mandate of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Health Canada


• refine and enhance the existing Air Quality Committee work plan with regard to information sharing, technical work-sharing, scientific collaboration and testing related to completed emission regulations for light-duty vehicles, which have been bilaterally coordinated

• work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from locomotives

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