Ottawa, April 13, 2016— The main barriers that hinder Canadian companies looking to import and export today are not tariffs or quotas; they are the regulatory barriers to trade. Canadian companies are losing millions of dollars adjusting to minute regulations in other jurisdictions, a situation that undermines Canada’s competitiveness and must be resolved, says the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a new report.
The report, entitled Canada’s Next Top Trade Barrier: Taking International Regulatory Cooperation Seriously, sheds a harsh light on current issues surrounding regulatory cooperation between Canada and its trading partners and provides the federal government with a series of recommendations for improving Canada’s regulatory regime.
“One of the key elements that comes out of this report is that regulatory barriers don’t happen during deals between nations—they start right here at home, with our own domestic policies,” says the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “Canada is moving along nicely on trade agreements, which contribute to reduced tariffs on trade. But if companies are still facing insurmountable or very expensive regulatory barriers, we haven’t advanced much at all.”
Companies looking to import or export currently need to spend on hiring the expertise to scope out and learn about the regulations in foreign markets, also known as information costs. In most cases, they then need to pay adjustment costs to have their product meet foreign standards. Finally, they also need to spend on conformity assessment costs to prove to foreign regulators that their products are now up to par. Often, the differences are so miniscule as to not affect the quality or safety of the product at all, creating an artificial trade barrier that some companies just cannot overcome.
“In some cases, we’re looking at a 1,700%-increase in price for a Canadian product abroad, once you factor in the costs of regulatory conformity. However, most of these barriers could easily be adapted to allow a freer flow of goods to and from foreign markets,” says Mr. Beatty. “Government can provide the leadership to remove these hurdles. Through initiatives like the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council, by building regulatory cooperation measures into trade agreements and by providing industry with dashboards to evaluate progress, we can make Canadian companies more competitive. This is the opportunity to take another step towards a building a Canada that wins.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. Follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.
G. Will Dubreuil
Director, Public Affairs and Media Relations
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce