Fredericton Chamber Supports Campaign to Remove Retail Tariffs
CAMPAIGN AIMS TO REMOVE TARIFFS
02 JUN 2012 03:45AM
SAINT JOHN – A campaign to help Canadian retailers be more competitive with their U.S. counterparts was launched Friday, the same day rules allowing more duty-free goods to cross the border took effect.
Local chambers of commerce across the country and the Retail Council of Canada are asking the federal government to remove the tariff charged on imported finished goods, which they say makes the prices of many items higher in Canadian stores.
The campaign started when the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce began to contact other chambers close to border crossings, said Krista Ross, CEO of the Fredericton chamber. Since many New Brunswickers cross into Maine to shop, the Fredericton chamber felt it was important to get involved.
“We are encouraged by the fact a Senate committee is studying this issue of what is causing the price discrepancies across the border,” Ross said.
Starting Friday, duty free limits for cross-border shoppers increased to $200 from $50 for trips of more than 24 hours but less than 48. For trips of more than 48 hours but less than seven days, the duty free allowance increased to $800 from $400. The limit for trips longer than seven days rose $50 to $800.
“I don’t understand why a decision would be made to double the amount of goods people can bring back from the United States,” Ross said.
Small business is the economic engine driving the economy so it is hard to understand why the government would make it more difficult for Canadian business, she said.
Many members of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce are also members of the Retail Council of Canada so they will continue to support the effort to have the tariff removed, Ross said.
Carolyn Bones of the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce, which is just across a bridge from New York state said the reason for the retail goods tariff no longer exists.
“Historically these tariffs were put in place to protect Canadian manufacturers, however very few of these products are manufactured in Canada anymore,” she said.
The types of finished goods currently caught under the tariff include clothing, hockey equipment and skates, sporting equipment, footwear and linens, she said.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will hold its national conference in September and Ross understands this issue will be on the agenda.
Imelda Gilman, of the Saint John Board of Trade, said her organization is a member of the Canadian chamber and is aware of the issue.
“From the Saint John perspective, I know a number of our retail members are concerned about the increase in the duty free limits,” she said.
The Board of Trade is working on a campaign to encourage people to do more shopping locally, she said.
By supporting local businesses, shoppers keep more money in their communities.
“These businesses volunteer in the community, they sponsor different events and sports teams and all of that,” she said. “We want to develop a campaign to get that message out to people in our community.”
The retail forum of the board has discussed the tariff on imported goods and would like to see it removed because they believe it places them at a disadvantage, she said.
“The average buyer doesn’t understand why things cost more here,” Gilman said. “It’s not just about the exchange rate.”