Canadian Shipper


U.S. governors to Canada: Use NAFTA to relax duties on online purchases

Washington, DC — Several U.S. state governors are pressing Canada for freer trade in online goods.

Eight governors have written a letter seeking a drastic expansion in the $20 duty-free limit Canada allows for online purchases.

Their letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer says the NAFTA talks are an opportunity to review this policy.

Canada has one of the strictest duty-free limits in the world for online goods — a mere fraction of the $800 Americans can spend on sites like Amazon and eBay without paying taxes on foreign imports.

Changing Canada’s limit is a high priority for the U.S. side in NAFTA talks.

An American source familiar with the talks tells The Canadian Press that’s one reason the U.S. mentions the issue and sets a specific $800 target in its published list of negotiating objectives.

While other U.S. goals are vaguely worded and avoid using hard numbers, the source calls the issue an example of a firm American demand.

In Canada, the debate pits importers versus bricks-and-mortar shops who warn that domestic retailers would be hit hard by a change in policy.