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Canadian envoy cites delicate balance Border security with efficiency

The U.S.-Canada border is a balance between security and efficiency.

The leaders of the two countries are trying to strengthen those twin goals with new efforts, said Marta Moszczenska, consul general of Canada in Buffalo.

"It's an acknowledgment that we have to work together to reduce threats to our border and to our two countries," Moszczenska said, referring to the "Beyond the Border" initiative announced earlier this year by President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "But at the same time, we want to make sure the border remains open, there's an efficient flow of goods and people, but we remain secure."

Moszczenska, who was named to her position in 2009, spoke Tuesday at a seminar presented by World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara. The smooth flow of commerce and people over the border is important in the Buffalo Niagara region, where trade and tourism are key economic concerns.

The "Beyond the Border" effort reflects the reality of life along the U.S.-Canada boundary, the consul general said.

"It does not eliminate the border," she said. "The border remains, the border will stay there. It will never go back to the way it was for those of us who remember the way it was. But we hope to be able to streamline the operations."

An action plan developed as part of "Beyond the Border" outlines U.S.-Canada cooperation in areas such as identifying threats, facilitating economic growth and cross-border law enforcement.

"Beyond the Border" is one of two initiatives recently announced by U.S. and Canadian leaders. The other, which has received less attention, is called the Regulatory Cooperation Council. The council aims to harmonize regulations between the two countries that can interfere with cross-border trade.

"These [differences] ultimately impose significant costs on our citizens, on our businesses, on our economies," Moszczenska said.

Some regulations are already aligned through deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, she said. "What we need to do now is expand it to other sectors." One example she cited: The two countries require air bags to be deployed at different speeds, complicating things for automakers.

The consul general of Canada in Buffalo oversees an office handling issues such as the border, immigration and trade affecting Canadians, in a territory covering upstate New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Her office in One HSBC Center has, appropriately, a view of the Peace Bridge.

Christopher Johnston, president of World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, praised Moszczenska for being "responsive to the needs of industry and commerce on both sides of the border."