Study examines border issues

Published on Thu, Nov 13, 2008
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Study examines border issues

Canada is by far the United States’ most important trading partner, with exports to our northern neighbor totaling more than those to Mexico, Japan and China combined.

Yet federal policies to reinforce security without slowing trade have had mixed results, with some border regions easing bottlenecks more than others. 

These and other findings on the U.S. – Canada trade relationship are published in the September, 2008 “Border Policy Brief,” a joint study undertaken by the Border Policy Research Institute of Western Washington University and the Regional Institute at the University of Buffalo.

The brief examines border issues through a snapshot of export activity in October 2007 across two trade corridors – Blaine, and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

The two institutes have received $11,500 from the recently formed Northern Border University Research Consortium (NBURC) to develop a “Border Barometer” that monitors the performance of the U.S. – Canada border.

Both Western Washington University and the University at Buffalo participate in NBURC, along with four other universities on the border.
“Blaine and Buffalo are uniquely situated to serve as microcosms of the U.S. – Canada relationship,” said David Davidson, associate director of the Border Policy Research Institute and co-author of the Brief. “This study, a nearly completed border performance report and the forthcoming Border Barometer, build a foundation of objective analysis to guide policies affecting all border regions along the 49th parallel.”

Last year in October, typically the peak month for trade due to pre-holiday stockpiling, nearly 20 percent of U.S. to Canada exports crossed at Buffalo-Niagara Falls, while more than five percent crossed at Blaine, between Seattle and Vancouver. In that same time period, U.S. exports to Canada were valued at $23.5 billion compared to $12.4 billion for Mexico and just $5.5 billion for China.

According to the “Border Brief,” among the federal policies that may be in need of attention is a package of pre-screening programs intended to bolster security while maintaining border flows.

The Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) is a multi-disciplinary research institute at Western Washington University. The entire brief series can be found at