Businesses to Push to Retain U.S.-Canada Regulatory Council

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By Cheryl Bolen

Nov. 30 — Business advocates plan to lobby the new administration to continue the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council, which was established in 2011 to coordinate rules between the U.S. and Canada.

“It’s something that we’re invested in, that we’ve seen some benefits from already, and we certainly hope to see continue,” said Alex Botting, senior manager at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation.

The RCC this week released its latest set of work plans that includes timelines and identifies specific deliverables for the next two years.

Although President-elect Donald Trump has espoused deregulation, the mission of the RCC is to streamline and coordinate existing regulations—not create new ones, business advocates told Bloomberg BNA.

Ingrained Practice

The Obama administration is working to ensure the long-term success of the RCC, Howard Shelanski, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the White House Office of Management and Budget, told Bloomberg BNA.

“We will continue to work with U.S. agencies and our Canadian colleagues to fulfill the commitments made during this administration and continue to encourage everyone, stakeholders included, to look beyond the end of this administration to establish long-term cooperation objectives,” Shelanski said.

International regulatory cooperation should be a routine, ingrained practice between U.S. and Canadian regulatory authorities, Shelanski said.

“It is an important economic and regulatory policy tool that has resulted in unprecedented dialogue among regulators and provided an opportunity to remove or reduce unnecessary differences and duplicative requirements across a range of areas,” Shelanski said.

Philosophically Aligned

Moreover, the efforts of the nonpartisan RCC align philosophically with the agenda of the incoming Trump administration, said Maryscott Greenwood, a principal in Dentons’ public policy and regulation practice. Dentons is an international law and public policy firm.

The RCC is strongly supported by the business community, and to the extent that it is something that is “universally supported,” this is an argument that they will be making, Greenwood said.

Botting said he hoped the incoming Trump administration would see the benefits that come from the RCC, both to consumers getting access to a greater number of goods at lower costs, but also to businesses of a range of sizes.

“Small businesses in many ways benefit more even than larger businesses in this case because the cost of regulation to them proportionately can be significant,” Botting said.

Regulatory cooperation means fewer manufacturers or businesses on the border with Canada unable to sell their products cross-border, which is a huge lost market, Botting said. This argument aligns with Trump’s comments on reducing regulatory burdens on companies, he said.

Mission of Council

The RCC essentially plays a coordinating function, working with the regulatory bodies in each country to help them find areas where there can be cross-border cooperation, Botting said.

“They are not setting the regulation,” or forcing regulators to change their minds on issues, Botting said. Instead, the RCC coordinates ideas for where regulatory cooperation might be relevant and then works with the agencies to move forward where it makes sense, he said.

The downside of regulatory cooperation is that it moves slowly, which is to some extent by design, because regulatory agencies need to do a lot of background work to look at potential compatibility, Botting said. Regulators on both sides of the border have to want similar outcomes and be looking at similar information, he said.

The recent work plans put forward by the RCC should be taken seriously, Botting said. “It’s a body that’s increasingly effective,” he said. “It’s a process that . . . the more it’s embedded, the more it’s ongoing, the more agencies are vested in it, the more will be achieved over time.”

Official Visit to Canada

While it is still early in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration, Canada seems to have recognized the benefits of regulatory cooperation, and it was prioritized by President Barack Obama and Trudeau in a press conference earlier this year, Botting said.

Separately, the White House announced that Dec. 8-9, Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Ottawa where he will participate in bilateral meetings with Trudeau to discuss the strong partnership between the U.S. and Canada.

Biden also will speak with Canada’s First Ministers on a range of bilateral and global issues, the White House said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington at cbolen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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