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Highlights

GAO reviewed the current systems and processes used for measuring trade between the United States and Canada, focusing on: (1) how these systems are affected by changes in the trade environment; and (2) the United States' and Canada's ability to produce accurate and complete trade data.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce The Secretary of Commerce should instruct the Director of the Census and the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the Commissioner of Customs to form an interagency task force to study how U.S.-Canada merchandise trade data should be collected in the future trade environment. This study should be expanded to include U.S.-Mexico trade data as the North American Free Trade Agreement is implemented. The task force could be modeled after the one that is currently in place to study ways of improving the U.S.-Canada import data exchange Memorandum of Understanding. The secretaries should consider joining with Statistics Canada and Canada Customs officials to form a bilateral task force to address this issue cooperatively.
Closed - Implemented
GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of Commerce should instruct the Director of the Census and the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the Commissioner of Customs to form an interagency task force to study how U.S.-Canada merchandise trade data should be collected in the future trade environment. This study should be expanded to include U.S.-Mexico trade data as the North American Free Trade Agreement is implemented. The task force could be modeled after the one that is currently in place to study ways of improving the U.S.-Canada import data exchange Memorandum of Understanding. The secretaries should consider joining with Statistics Canada and Canada Customs officials to form a bilateral task force to address this issue cooperatively.
Closed - Not Implemented
The U.S. Customs Service and the Bureau of the Census formed a task force and met with representatives of Canada and Mexico to study how merchandise trade data should be collected. The effort has been suspended and Customs is reevaluating the direction of the work.

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