Denied cross-border shoppers, some U.S. companies opt to export to Canada instead

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WASHINGTON — In earlier times, Katie McCarron could count on her best Canadian customers to travel to her store in Portland, Oregon, to stock her favorite high-quality, human-grade pet food.

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COVID-19 had other plans. Soon, however, the Portland Pet Food Company did the same.

“Some of them may just be shopping in Portland, and we may have heard they were here, or they would write to us and they would ask, ‘How can I order your food online with the border closed? The BC-born McCarron said in a recent interview.

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However, in the United States, a special health certificate is required for each international shipment of pet food products, making it impossible for a small retailer such as Portland Pet Food to offer online sales outside the country.

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“We can’t ship to Canada – it’s too expensive, and we have to issue these certificates every time we ship. So I had to chase getting into delivery.”

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Today, thanks to a deal with Canadian chain Pet Velu, Portland Pet Food is available in more than 500 specialty retailers in Canada, an expansion that equates to about 25 percent of the company’s worldwide retail footprint.

McCarron’s mind was clearly expanded even before the pandemic hit. Portland products are already available in Japan, and they recently signed an agreement for distribution in China. Korea and Taiwan are next on his list.

But the ongoing ban on non-essential land travel from Canada to the US, which has now been temporarily extended for the 19th month until October 21, has hammered home the importance of winning shelf space in a part of the world, Where now crossing the border is not as easy as once.

President Joe Biden’s administration attracted a stark contrast last week, when it announced a major reassessment of the rules governing international travel and COVID-19, while at the same time expanding a travel ban on the Canada-US border.

McCarron is at a loss to explain why the US denies Canadians the ability to drive across the border for vacations, day trips or shopping excursions – a ban the federal Canadian government has fully vaccinated against over the summer. Started making it easier for US citizens and permanent residents. .

“I’m just as amazed” as others about the range, she said.

The US Travel Association says the closure of Mexican and Canadian land borders is costing American businesses an estimated $1.5 billion per month in “travel exports,” which the association considers as expenses by foreign residents when visiting the US. defines.

Meanwhile, Canada remains the single largest US export market, accounting for about 18 percent of all US goods shipped out of the country last year. The two countries trade goods and services worth $1.7 billion every day, for a total of $614.9 billion in 2020.

“My constituents are deeply disappointed by this, especially given the cross-border relations between trade and people,” Michigan Sen. Gary Peters said last week during a national security hearing with Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Meyercas.

Meyerkas replied, “We are very conscious of the economic consequences, and not only the economic consequences but the consequences on family members who haven’t seen each other in a long time.”

He said progress on the delta version of COVID-19 is “not yet where we need it” in the US, and there are communities near the US-Mexico border that are suffering as a result of the closures.

“We are looking at the situation not only at the ports of entry on our northern border, but also on our southern border,” Meyerkas said.

“We have heard similar concerns in the South with respect to border communities and the impact of sanctions, economic and family impact. We are looking at what we can do operationally, and we are moving in a very sequential and controlled manner “

Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public relations and policy for the US Travel Association, said the discrepancy in crossing the Canada-US border by land is difficult to consider.

“It’s very clear that we’re in a position here where we’ve fully reopened Canada, and from a US perspective, you can only come in when you fly,” Barnes said.

“It’s obviously quite negative for the US economy as well, and that’s something that we’re continuing to articulate.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had no explanation Thursday for why the land border remains closed, while the Biden administration is announcing new vaccination requirements for international visitors arriving by air.

“The land ban, I don’t have an update for you on where that stands, has been extended[and]we are continuing to consider additional steps,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 26, 2021.

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