Retailers step up crossborder shopping fight

TORONTO — Local chambers of commerce across the country and the Retail Council of Canada are calling for Ottawa to make immediate changes that would help them combat cross-border shopping.They want the federal government to eliminate the tariffs charged on imported finished goods which, they say, add to the costs that Canadian retailers must deal with when they set consumer prices.It’s latest response to complaints that retail prices charged in Canada are often higher than what’s available for the same product in the United States and it comes as new federal rules for cross-border shoppers go into effect.The Retail Council of Canada has long argued that its members face extra costs that put them at a disadvantage when competing with American stores.The national voice of Canada’s retail sector plus local chambers of commerce in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick are directing their call to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.His latest budget introduced new rules that raise the amount of money Canadians are allowed to spend duty free during most cross-border trips.The changes go into effect Friday.“The government’s decision to increase duty exemptions on goods bought in the U.S. is salt in the wounds of retailers in border communities,” Diane Brisebois, the Retail Council’s president and CEO, said in a statement Friday.“They already face too many obstacles to competition, such as import duties, as high as 18 per cent on sports equipment.”Carolyn Bones, president of the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce in southern Ontario — across the border from New York State — said Ottawa needs to eliminate tariffs on imported finished goods.“Tariffs on many finished goods — including clothing, hockey equipment and skates, sporting equipment and footwear and linens — are paid by the retailer to the Canadian government,” Bones said in a joint statement.“Historically, these tariffs were put in place to protect Canadian manufacturers. However, very few of these products are manufactured in Canada anymore.”The statement was also issued on behalf of chambers of commerce in Surrey, B.C., Winnipeg and Altona in Manitoba, and Fredericton, N.B., which are all within driving distance of the U.S. border.

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