U.S. and Canadian flags fly in Point Roberts, Wash., on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. The first-ever Canadian customs sites in the United States could be coming soon. A U.S. official said the years-long preclearance experiment could soon be taking a new step with Canadian customs facilities in the U.S., and he mentioned Arizona and Florida as leading candidates for the sites. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

U.S. and Canadian flags fly in Point Roberts, Wash., on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. The first-ever Canadian customs sites in the United States could be coming soon. A U.S. official said the years-long preclearance experiment could soon be taking a new step with Canadian customs facilities in the U.S., and he mentioned Arizona and Florida as leading candidates for the sites. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canadian customs sites may soon be found in the U.S.

Canadian customs facilities in the U.S.? Americans say it could happen soon

Canada could soon have its first customs sites inside the United States.

A U.S. official says he hopes to see movement soon on the so-called customs preclearance sites.

State Department official Kenneth Merten says two possible locations for pilot projects are Scottsdale, Ariz., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Merten was among several speakers at a conference about the future of the Canada-U.S. border, hosted today by the Wilson Center in Washington.

It would be the next phase in preclearance efforts that have been going on for decades. The U.S. has had customs sites for years in Canadian airports, where travellers clear customs before boarding in order to reduce wait times later.

A Canadian official speaking at the conference says speeding up the border is an economic imperative, given that border wait times cost the Canadian economy somewhere between one per cent and 1.8 per cent of GDP in 2010.

The Canadian Press

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