Forum to shed light on cross-border trade issues

Industry leaders, professionals to speak to business crowd

Government officials from both Canada and the U.S. will be participating next week at a Surrey symposium that aims to shed light on cross-border trade between the two nations.

David Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Canada, will join Premier Christy Clark and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts at the June 10 event, called Building Bridges to Prosperity.

The forum is hosted by Surrey-based Pacific Customs Brokers, and is meant to answer questions regarding importing and exporting to and from the States.

“A lot has changed since 9-11,” organizer Greg Timm said. “There’s probably an overriding thinking amongst people that the border has thickened, it’s become more bureaucratically heavy and maybe even intimidating.

“We’re trying to dispel the thought that you can’t do business in the other country.”

Around 250 people are expected to attend – so far, around 40 per cent of paid attendees are American – including business owners, managers, entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce and boards of trade.

Timm said the target audience is anyone who is “profiting or could profit from cross-border trade.”

“We’re trying to help the potential or current importer or exporter understand their obligations, to answer their questions, so that they can continue on with a prosperous business.”

The event will touch on issues such as customs requirements, work permits and export finance, as well as provide updates on key economic trade dynamics, including the impact of the exchange rate and new transportation corridors.

Industry professionals are to speak on topics such as immigration and business law, NAFTA eligibility, transportation, warehousing packaging and labelling.

Participants will also have a chance to network with others who may have similar questions, Timm noted.

“You get to listen to the questions and concerns of other people and other companies that are possibly facing the same (challenges).”

One of the goals of the symposium is to educate business people on cross-border trade requirements and processes that can become a headache if not considered until after the fact, Timm added.

“There is a way of doing it,” he said. “We just want to help our potential clients here to do it the right way and stay on the good side of government agencies.”

There are many benefits in maintaining a long-term business relationship with the U.S., Timm said, noting a billion dollars of goods travel back and forth from the border every day.

“Speaking as a Canadian, we’re next door to the largest economic engine in the world and lots of Canadian companies could still benefit from doing business in the U.S.A., selling their goods into the U.S.A. The economy isn’t great there yet but it’s still a huge opportunity for companies that haven’t done business (there) before.”

Building Bridges to Prosperity will be held 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. (doors open at 7:15 a.m.) at Sheraton Guildford Hotel, 15269 104 Ave.

“We’re awfully proud we’re doing this in Surrey,” Timm said. “Surrey, being a huge vested interest benefactor from cross-border trade, having two border crossings coming in right from the U.S., the city obviously has a huge vested interest in this.”

Tickets are $270, and include breakfast and lunch. For more information or to register, visit www.pcb.ca or call 604-538-1566.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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