The Regulatory Cooperation Council Action Plan at Six Months
The Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, Program on America and the Global Economy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
A Beyond the Border Initiative Discussion
Robert Carberry, assistant secretary, Regulatory Cooperation Council Secretariat, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Alex T. Hunt, branch chief, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget
Adam Schlosser, senior manager, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation
and Stakeholder Response Panel with
David Adams, Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada
Gene Eckhart, NEMA
Michael Fitzpatrick, General Electric
Kelly Johnston, Campbell’s Soup
Brian Read, XL Foods
The Canada Institute and the Program on America and the Global Economy, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, partnered to present “The Regulatory Cooperation Council at Six Months.” The program allowed both the implementation teams and a number of stakeholders an opportunity to discuss the successes and challenges of the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Action Plan. This regulatory alignment process is designed to better coordinate the regulatory regimes of the United States and Canada.
Robert Carberry of Canada’s Privy Council Office and Alex T. Hunt of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs discussed the Canadian and U.S. governments’ efforts at implementing the RCC Action Plan. Trumpeting the progress of the RCC, the panelists discussed the 29 sector-specific work plans, which give tangible two-year time frames to further align the regulatory regimes of both countries. They both touted recent breakthroughs, such as the implementation of uniform can sizes in the two countries. These changes will allow private companies to focus energy away from regulatory concerns and reinvest in their businesses. Both Carberry and Hunt felt that these types of concrete reforms to regulations and regulatory enforcement policies will last long beyond the current Obama administration and Harper Government and increase North American competitiveness for many years to come.
Carberry stressed that the goal of RCC is not just to implement a new regulatory regime but also to fundamentally change how both American and Canadian regulators view the border. Because the regulatory systems of the United States and Canada successfully protect consumers and citizens, there is little reason for both to have divergent standards. By focusing on our regulatory similarities, the RCC has a greater chance at success than previous attempts to standardize both countries regulation regimes. To combat existing limitations to cooperation, Carberry asked regulators and stakeholders for advice and input on what future changes are most practical in enhancing the regulatory relationship. Carberry added that in addition to aligning regulations, both countries can change how they approach enforcement to cut down on red tape and delays. By altering inefficient procedures and eliminating ineffective regulations, resources can be more efficiently allocated, which will allow more attention to be devoted to sensitive border areas and increase economic activity in both countries.
U.S. Executive Order 13609 provided the framework to ensure more effective domestic regulations while providing a blueprint for international expansion of regulatory alignment, said Hunt. Simpler and a more globally conscious regulatory regime will increase access to foreign markets for U.S. exports. That will increase economic activity throughout the country and provide valuable jobs to American workers. Additional executive orders aim to cut down on redundant regulations and introduce international regulatory norms, so long as those regulations do not lead to a “race to the bottom.” In addition to these orders, the Regulatory Working Group, created by President Clinton, was given a new international focus to better align the United States with other nations’ regulations, when feasible. This provides more institutional weight in the fight against outdated and inefficient rules. Finally, Hunt enumerated the importance of high level political investment, attainable goals, stakeholder engagement, and a focus on the future of rulemaking to ensure the elimination of unnecessary regulations hindering trade between the two countries.
Following the presentations by Hunt and Carberry, David Adams from the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, Gene Eckhart from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Michael Fitzpatrick of General Electric, Kelly Johnston from Campbell’s Soup, and Brian Read from XL Foods participated in a stakeholder discussion. All of these private sector speakers, who have a significant interest in the success of the RCC, stressed the need for tangible results, increased participation, and consultation between public and private entities. The stakeholders emphasized the need for a mechanism that incorporates new ideas from private sources into the official decision making process. All stakeholders were encouraged by the working groups’ efforts to reduce redundant inspections at both borders, which hurt competition and provide little value to consumers. One topic that was discussed was the difficulty in dealing with Congress on many of these issues. While executive branch support is essential to changing the regulatory regimes of the United States, many of the most harmful regulations come from legislation that can only be undone though acts of Congress. The panelists agreed that congressional outreach, input, and action is essential to increasing regulatory efficiency.
Alex T. Hunt //branch chief, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget
assistant secretary, Regulatory Cooperation Council Secretariat, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
senior manager, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation