Over the course of the past week, there have been two important developments in Canadian trade regulation, summarized below, of potential relevance to any business with substantial imports and exports into and out of Canada, as well as any business with production in Canada of a broad range of products.

Proposed Tariff Elimination

On August 30, 2008, the Government of Canada published a notice outlining a proposal to eliminate Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff rates on a broad list of products and components thereof which fall under Chapters 84 and 85 of the Customs Tariff. A copy of the Government of Canada notice which includes the listing of Harmonized Codes proposed for MFN tariff elimination can be found in the Canada Gazette at pages 2524 to 2529.

As is always the case when tariffs are up for reduction or removal, and with the caveat that the federal election introduces extra uncertainty as to both the likelihood and timing of implementation, the Government will base its final decision on the submissions received, both for and against. As such, any business engaged in the import or domestic production of a listed product or component thereof may wish to consider making a submission in favour of, or against, the proposed MFN tariff elimination. Please note that the deadline for submission is September 30, 2008.

Sanctions against Zimbabwe

On September 4, 2008, the Government of Canada implemented certain targeted economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. Key elements of the announced sanctions include:

  • A ban on the export of arms and related material to Zimbabwe or to any person in Zimbabwe;
  • A prohibition on the transport of arms and related material to Zimbabwe aboard a Canadian vessel or aircraft;
  • A prohibition on the provision of technical or financial assistance or services related to arms and related material (including the provision, transfer or communication of technical data) to Zimbabwe or any person in Zimbabwe;
  • A freeze on the assets of listed Zimbabwean persons and entities; and
  • A prohibition on Zimbabwean aircraft flying over or landing in Canada.

The sanctions have been implemented pursuant to Canada’s Special Economic Measures Act which imposes fines and/or imprisonment for non-compliance.

Any business engaged in trade with Zimbabwe or otherwise providing support (technical or financial) should inform themselves of the precise scope of these sanctions and ensure that their activity is not in breach of the sanctions.