TORONTO, April 18, 2012 /CNW/ - Retail Council of Canada (RCC), together with the Chambers of Commerce of Niagara Falls and Welland/Pelham hosted a Town Hall meeting to discuss the impact of the federal government's budget proposal to increase border exemptions on American goods being brought into Canada.
"Since 9/11, Niagara Falls merchants have been operating with tourism that has fallen to 1970s levels and the ever-increasing pressures of cross border shopping," said Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce president Carolyn Bones. "This proposal will allow Canadians to spend even more money in the States, which means fewer dollars, more bankrupt shops and more lost jobs for our citizens."
The meeting was held on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 7 p.m. at Club Italia in Niagara Falls.
"The federal government and our local politicians need to hear the impact that increased duty exemptions will on retailers who are already operating on an uneven playing field," said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, RCC. "In order to counter the effects of this increase, the federal government needs to eliminate the import duties on finished goods and review the supply-management system for agricultural products.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled his budget on March 29, which included quadrupling the exemption limit to goods being brought in from the U.S. Starting June 1, returning travellers who have been outside of Canada for more than 24 hours but less than 48 will be able to bring back $200 worth of tax-exempt goods. That's up from $50. For those out of Canada for 48 hours or more, the exemption is also quadrupling, from $200 to $800.
"This is salt in the wound for Canadian retailers, who pay upwards of 18 per cent more in import duties than their American counterparts," Brisebois said, adding that it is particularly onerous for products manufactured in Asia. "These duties have outlived their original purpose, which was to protect Canadian manufacturing. Now, these useless tariffs only help to propel more people who live close to the border to dip into the U.S. to save the difference."
"This Town Hall will allow retailers to share their stories," said Carolyn Bones. "We need an honest open dialogue so that our political representatives can understand that this decision will have irrevocably hazardous effects on retailers in border communities and the communities they serve."
Collectively, the retail sector is the largest employer in Canada, providing jobs for more than two million Canadians and generating sales in excess of $300 billion dollars a year. The retail sector continues to be a critical component in Canada's economic well-being. Since the announcement of these new personal exemption limits, retailers from across Canada have expressed concerns about the anticipated negative impact on their businesses.
For further information:
Sally Ritchie, VP Communications and Marketing, RCC
1 (888) 373-8245 ext. 228
(416) 922-0553 ext. 228
(416) 574-2552 (Mobile)