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Canadian industry asks for tariff relief

Published March 26, 2013

KESWICK, Ontario (BRAIN) — The Canadian government announced earlier this month that it would eliminate tariffs on several categories of imported goods, from baby clothes to skis and snowboards to golf and hockey equipment. But bicycles weren’t on the list — and the Canadian industry is now asking the government, what about us?

“Immediately we went out to our members and are doing a bit of a campaign to highlight the fact that a 13 percent tariff on bikes imported into Canada is significant,” Bill Yetman, executive director of the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada, said Tuesday.

In fact, Yetman said, BTAC is worried the government may boost tariffs on Chinese-made bikes from the current 8 percent to 13 percent, which applies to Taiwan and other exporters.

“Canadians by record numbers are out there enjoying cycling both as a sport/leisure activity and as a mode of transportation,” he said. “If the government is looking for opportunities to promote all of those things, then bicycles should be a part of the elimination of tariffs.”

Yetman said slashing tariffs also would help Canadian retailers compete with U.S. rivals across the border.

“We want to make sure that the government understands that if you’ve got a store on the border of BC [British Columbia] and a consumer can go across the border to pick up a bike that’s a whole lot cheaper, then the retailer on the BC side is disadvantaged,” Yetman said. “Anything we can do to provide parity around some of these cost pieces is what we should be doing.”

According to news reports, Canada Finance Minister Jim Flahlerty said the tariff reductions were a “test case” to see if savings would reach consumers. The government said the tariff reductions would amount to about C$76 million ($74.5 million) a year.

With Raleigh Canada’s announcement that it would quit manufacturing and assembling bikes at its Waterloo, Québec, facility by year’s end, Canada has few home-grown bike manufacturers left.

“As you know, a lot of this stuff is theater,” Yetman said. “We congratulate [the government] for starting the process for reducing some of the tariffs.”

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