As one Vancouver based CIFFA member wrote, "Welcome to Canada. CBSA has become the best marketing tool for Port of Seattle." Incredible as it may seem, delays from vessel discharge to containers being called for examination are as long as six weeks and more at Canada’s busiest port. And, while the entire process appears to be broken, it also appears that the rate of examinations at Vancouver is on the rise. Importers face the consequences of six and seven week delays to their goods – reduced sales, dissatisfied customers, cancelled orders – and then are hit with exorbitant examination, storage and demurrage invoices that can be $4,000 and more per container.

The entire system lacks accountability. The terminal operators charge storage fees of + $150 per day so what incentive do they have to make goods available to the CBSA for examination? Why do they care if containers identified for exam are buried in the stacks? Steamship lines pass on the charges, often with hefty administrative fees and additional equipment demurrage fees, so why do they care? CBSA shrugs its collective shoulders and claims that it has no culpability in continuing to identify containers for examinations knowing full well that the terminals and CEFs are not able to handle the requests.

CIFFA has written a letter to Canada Border Services Agency, urging CBSA to take action to resolve the delays and expense incurred by Canadian importers at all ports and most especially at the Port of Vancouver. While the letter calls for immediate steps to be taken to ameliorate the situation at Vancouver, in it CIFFA urges CBSA to address both the pricing model and the regulatory framework surrounding container examinations across the country. CIFFA also suggest several immediate actions that would drive accountability and transparency in the examinations procedures.

The letter reads in part, "Lack of leadership by Canada Border Services Agency in addressing this long-standing and persistent problem has resulted in considerable cost to Canadian traders. There is no accountability or transparency anywhere through-out the process and Canadian importers are paying the price".

For further information on this topic, please refer to CIFFA Special eBulletin of Friday August 12, 2016.