The Canadian and U.S. governments are working to make trade flow more smoothly at the border. (Photo by Jim Park)

The Canadian and U.S. governments are working to make trade flow more smoothly at the border. (Photo by Jim Park)

Officials with the United States and Canada have announced a binational border infrastructure plan to expedite traffic and freight movements between the two countries.

The BIIP is an interagency and binational planning mechanism developed to establish a mutual understanding of recent, ongoing and potential border infrastructure investments. It outlines the approach that the U.S. and Canada will take to coordinate plans for physical infrastructure upgrades at small and remote ports of entry. This initiative will be updated and disseminated annually.

An integrated, bilateral approach to border investment is critical to both the U.S. and Canadian economies," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. "The BIIP offers enhanced security along our shared U.S.-Canadian border, while reducing wait times at major border crossings—increasing the flow of traffic across the border while ensuring safe and secure trade and travel."

This first-ever joint U.S.-Canada Border Infrastructure Investment Plan fulfills a commitment made under the 2011 Canada-United States Beyond the Border Action Plan.

The BIIP follows recent announcements by the Government of Canada of significant investments at four initial priority land ports of entry identified by Canada in the Action Plan: Lacolle, Quebec; Lansdowne, Ontario (Thousand Islands Bridge); Emerson, Manitoba; and North Portal, Saskatchewan. The modernization of major border crossings will reduce wait times, increase reliability of just-in-time shipments, and decrease fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada and the United States have the world's largest trading partnership, with two-way merchandise trade totaling $570 billion in 2012.

In addition, the government of Canada announced, in July 2012, the installation of technology to measure and report border wait times at the Peace and Queenston-Lewiston Bridges. The $1.7 million project was completed in partnership with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the Canada Border Services Agencies.

"Our two governments are committed to enhancing our mutual security and economic prosperity through significant investments at key crossings," said Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews. "These investments will reduce border delays, expedite trade across our shared border, and allow the Canada Border Services Agency to focus on facilitating the flow of low-risk people and goods while keeping the border open to legitimate trade and travel."

More information on the Beyond the Border Action Plan is available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.