"Anything that impairs the efficiency, productivity and reliability of the North American supply chain impacts negatively on the region's ability to compete, to attract direct investment and to take full advantage of economic recovery when it comes," Bradley said at the Annual Summit of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region in Boise, Idaho.
Bradley stressed that increased security did, in some cases, facilitate trade, but in most cases, it impeded trade across the border. He said the two concepts do not have to be mutually exclusive, and there can be "no denying that the border is less efficient than it was before, and there were problems at the border prior to 9/11."
"Creating a more secure, efficient and flexible border will require the restoration of a risk assessment focus, real value-added benefits from participation in low-risk trade programs, appropriate levels of inspectors, and strategic investment in infrastructure - and not just bricks and mortar but systems as well," he said.
Bradley went on to say that the U.S. and Canada should coordinate and mutually recognize programs on both sides of the border and work on a new border agreement.
"I don't think we should expect, nor do we need to do anything profound like turning the clock back to the way things were before 9/11," he said. "Those days are gone. We have all learned a huge lesson. Instead, what we would like to see is a commitment from both governments to jointly implement some modest, practical and achievable measures that would improve trade facilitation without reducing security."
Some suggestions he gave included ending the duplication of low-risk security cards that truck drivers must carry, making it easier for low-risk companies to move goods in-transit through the other country, issuing a challenge to all ports to improve throughput by 25 percent, and allowing trucking companies to show they practice due diligence before losing their low-risk status for minor violations.
"The border is part of a system; it starts wherever freight is picked up or delivered to," he said. "We need to win back some of the efficiency lost at the border elsewhere in the freight transportation system."