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Countries to come together for trade talk

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson will speak at next month's trade symposium.

Several top Canadian and U.S. government officials will speak and answer questions about improving cross-border trade between the two countries at the Building Bridges to Prosperity symposium in Surrey on April 27.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson will be among the officials speaking at the Sheraton Vancouver Guilford Hotel for the event.

Canadian and American businesses - and any other interested members of the public - can learn about trade and border policies from some of the policy-makers themselves. Attendees will also be able to ask questions of the speakers, and participate in a visit to the Canadian Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Pacific Highway Border Crossing.

“The objective of the symposium is to make it easier for companies to do business across the border,” said Greg Timm, general manager of Pacific Customs Brokers, the group hosting the event.

“We want to take away the theory that it’s too difficult, and open up those cross-border markets.”

Timm expects between 200-250 people to attend, including some business representatives from the U.S. He says this is a particularly important time for Canadian business owners to understand border and trade policies.

“Being Canadians, we have advantages right now. The strong Canadian dollar makes it cheaper for people to purchase materials in the U.S., and it’s the largest economy in the world so we want more Canadians to be able to take advantage of that market,” Timm said.

Topics that will be discussed at the event include pre-approval programs for commercial vehicles crossing the border, and a recently-proposed security perimeter deal between Canada and the U.S.

A limited amount of spots are available for the border visit portion of the day, and anyone who wishes to attend it must register by March 23. The visit will consist of 45 minutes each with border customs officials from the U.S. and Canada.

“Lots of businesses ship domestically, and then if they ship from Washington to B.C., in some cases they expect the preparation of paperwork to be same as it is for domestic shipping,” Timm said.

“This visit is to give perspective on the fact that even though we have so many similarities, Canada and the U.S. are foreign countries to one another with different policies.”

The registration deadline for the rest of the symposium is April 15, and the registration form can be downloaded off Pacific Custom Brokers’ website,