Ottawa cuts tariffs on skates, baby clothes and skis

Hockey skates, skis, and baby clothing are some of the goods that could soon be a little more affordable.

Canada’s Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt on Monday officially axed import tariffs on a range of products.

The plan was announced in last month’s federal budget.

A tariff of 18 per cent on imported baby clothing has been eliminated, Raitt said. Another 18 per cent government levy on hockey skates is also being axed.

Tariffs on hockey equipment in general appear to be scrapped, while the cost of skis, snowboards, golf clubs and exercise equipment could fall by between 2.5 per cent and 20 per cent depending on the product.

Raitt said the move will ease some of the financial burden for consumers. But there are no guarantees.

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“Our government strongly encourages businesses to fully pass these savings onto consumers,” Raitt said at a press conference in Toronto.

The tariff removals, estimated to be worth about $76 million, are the latest by a government that has already cut more than half a billion dollars in annual import tariffs.

Gregory Thomas, federal director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, lauded the current cuts.

“We’re pleased,” he said in an email message. “It’s for things young working families need to buy. It’s tough for young families to make ends meet, and it’s good to see the government making it easier instead of harder to raise a family.”

With billions worth of goods moving in and out of the country every day however, some suggested Monday the comparatively small sum the tariff reductions are targeting should be kept in perspective.

“This is spread over billions of dollars in trade. It’s a very minor decrease,” Michael Hart, a trade policy expert and professor of international affairs at Carleton University, said.

Many Canadian retailers have complained tariffs have prevented them from competing effectively with some U.S. retailers. Cross-border shopping among Canadian consumers continues to flourish driven by lower U.S. prices on some consumer goods and a relatively strong Canadian dollar.

Even assuming the savings are passed onto consumers and families, the benefits may not last long however.

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As part of the same budget plans, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the government’s intentions to raise tariffs beginning in 2015 on general imports from 72 countries that Ottawa has deemed no longer “developing”, including China, Thailand, South Korea and Brazil.

The measures will raise as much as $330 million annually from potential price increases on items like running shoes and kitchen appliances, according to the new budget – or a sum more than four times greater than the current “tariff relief” being implemented on Monday.

The tariff reductions are as follows:

• 18% tariff on ice skates;

• 2.5% to 18% tariff on hockey equipment;

• 6.5% to 20% tariff on skis and snowboards;

• 2.5% to 7% tariff on golf clubs; and

• 6.5% tariff on exercise equipment.

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