The U.S. is proposing a controversial customs fee on freight crossing the border from Canada, a move the Canadian government said would almost certainly violate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The measure, proposed in President Clinton's fiscal 2000 federal budget, would attempt to raise $210 million US through a fee based on the value of goods crossing the border. The money would be used to pay for badly needed new computer systems used for customs clearance.
The administration proposed a similar charge in last year's budget, but the measure was defeated in Congress. Lawyers for the Canadian Trucking Alliance, an Ottawa-based lobby group representing for-hire trucking companies, argued that such a fee would violate NAFTA, which bars countries from introducing new border levies of this kind.