Canadian retailers irked at increased duty-free limits

Publish Date: 
Apr 11, 2012

Canadian retailers along the border aren’t happy about a new rule that lets people bring home more duty-free items from the United States.

A change to Canadian law lets shoppers bring home $200 worth of goods duty free, instead of the previous $50, on 24-hour trips. The limit has been doubled for trips of 48 hours, all the way up to $800.

That could be a boon for U.S. retailers along the northern border, but it will come at the expense of Canadian merchants, retailers say.

“I don’t understand it,” Marq Smith, owner of Western Powersports in Langley, B.C., told CBC News. “The government is supposed to be in our corner, not encouraging people to go south to spend their money. And they’re hurting themselves, too, losing tax revenue. This doesn’t help us as Canadians at all. I can’t figure out the logic.”

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty downplayed the risk to Canadian businesses, because the duty-free provisions only apply on trips of at least 24 hours.

Smith, who employs 11 people at the dealership selling Yamaha and Triumph vehicles and PG&A, is unconvinced.

“Mom-and-pop shops in border towns are being decimated,” he says. The change may not put him out of business, “but every little bit hurts.”

Posted by Holly Wagner

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