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U.S., Canada Invite Further Input on Regulatory Cooperation

Thursday, September 05, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget and Canada’s Privy Council Office are inviting public comments by Oct. 11 on progress the two sides have made toward regulatory cooperation and how best to address regulatory divergence in the future.

The U.S. and Canada established a Regulatory Cooperation Council in February 2011 and that December launched the initial RCC joint action plan. Work on this action plan has helped to identify a number of areas where deeper cooperation could generate significant benefits for regulated parties, citizens and regulators, including (a) aligning standards or sharing information concerning standards development activities, (b) joint applications and aligned requirements for product reviews and approvals, (c) reliance on the outcomes of the other regulatory system, (d) coordinating import programs and sharing information about third-country technical requirements, (e) increasing reliance on assessment and inspection work done off-shore by the other country and at its external borders, and (f) aligning conformity assessment practices as well as reliance on international conformity assessment standards and acceptance mechanisms.

The two sides are now inviting public views on the progress made to date in implementing these work plans as well as issues and sectors that should be considered for future cooperation. They note that one potential way to advance collaboration is enhanced cooperative arrangements between Canadian and U.S. regulatory agencies, which they emphasize would not diminish the sovereignty of either country or its ability to carry out its regulatory functions according to its domestic, legal policy and international commitments. Instead, these arrangements could provide the framework for high-level commitment to pursue further alignment of regulatory systems, such as identifying work-sharing opportunities, common programs and a greater reliance on work performed under either system. These arrangements may also include opportunities for long-term and annual planning so that routine regulatory work and system advancements could be considered together.

Toward this end, stakeholder insights are being solicited on the following issues.

- how to institutionalize bilateral regulatory cooperation

- how to advance agency-to-agency cooperative arrangements where they already exist and create them where they are non-existent

- measurable benefits for industry, government and/or consumers that can be quantified and shared that occurred as a direct result of a current RCC initiative

- particular sectors or issues for which the RCC should consider further regulatory alignment, including emerging technologies (such as nanotechnology) that are not yet regulated; details should be provided where possible on the issue or unnecessary difference as well as the potential alignment opportunity, the net benefits of enhanced regulatory alignment, and possible regulatory cooperation best practices that should be considered for removing unnecessary differences or duplicative practices

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