Canada's trade barriers against U.S. products are described in the 2008 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers of the U.S. Trade Representative. The report describes a number of barriers to U.S. agricultural exports such as dairy products, eggs, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables and grains. This practice severely limits the ability of U.S. producers to increase exports to Canada above the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) levels. Canada's meager personal duty-free exemption puts a damper on cross-border shopping in the United States. There are provincial market access barriers to the effective marketing of U.S. wine and spirits. Standards barriers affect the fortification of foods such as breakfast cereals, and the size of baby food jars. The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has raised questions about pharmaceutical pricing and patent term protection of drugs. Canada's Copyright Act restricts broadcast royalties due to U.S. artists. There are also substantial limitations in the telecommunications and media fields. Examples include required labeling on videos and DVDs and Canadian content requirements for broadcasters.
Canada's dairy, chicken, turkey, and egg industries are regulated by supply management systems. Canada's supply management regime involves the establishment of production quotas as well as producer marketing boards to regulate the supply and prices farmers receive for their poultry, turkey, eggs, and milk products. Canada's supply management regime severely limits the ability of U.S. producers to increase exports to Canada above the tariff-rate quota levels and inflates prices Canadians pay for dairy and poultry products. The United States continues to press for the elimination of this trade barrier in the WTO Doha Round agricultural negotiations.
Over the last year, Canada announced two measures concerning dairy that the United States views as indicative of possible future trade barriers. On April 11, 2007, Canada, pursuant to GATT Article XXVIII, notified the WTO that it intended to modify through renegotiation its concessions in its tariff schedule with respect to certain milk protein substances. In addition, on December 26, 2007, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency published new proposed compositional standards for cheese. United States dairy producers and processors are quite concerned about the highly prescriptive nature of these proposed compositional standards for cheese, which may likely operate as new technical barriers to trade and significantly reduce U.S. access to the Canadian market. Moreover, Canada continues to maintain a prohibitive tariff of 245 percent on U.S. exports of breaded cheese sticks.
Canada prohibits imports of fresh or processed fruits and vegetables in packages exceeding certain standard package sizes unless the government of Canada grants a Ministerial exemption. To obtain an exemption, Canadian importers must demonstrate that there is an insufficient supply of a product in the domestic market. The import restrictions apply to all fresh and processed produce in bulk containers if there are standardized container sizes stipulated in the regulations for that commodity. For those horticultural products without prescribed container sizes, there is no restriction on bulk imports. The restriction has a negative impact on exports of U.S. apples and blueberries. In addition, Canadian regulations on fresh fruit and vegetable imports prohibit consignment sales of fresh fruit and vegetables in the absence of a pre-arranged buyer. Progress was made in 2007 with the implementation of the Technical Arrangement Concerning Trade in Potatoes between the United States and Canada. This arrangement will provide U.S. potato producers with predictable access to Canadian Ministerial exemptions to import potatoes. The Arrangement, when fully implemented in Year 3, will allow a 60-day forward contract between U.S. growers and Canadian processors to serve as sufficient evidence of a shortage in Canadian potatoes. In addition to addressing U.S. concerns about Canada's procedures for granting Ministerial exemptions for potatoes, the Arrangement will phase in quality inspections for potatoes at destination and will phase out spot-check inspections along the northeastern Canadian border crossing. The United States will initiate a rulemaking to allow some Canadian specialty potatoes that do not currently meet U.S. quality standards for size to enter the U.S. market.
Restrictions on U.S. Grain Exports
Canada's varietal controls limit U.S. access to Canada's grain market. Canada requires that each variety of grain be registered and be visually distinguishable based on a system of Kernel Visual Distinguishability (KVD) requirements. Since U.S. varieties may not be visually distinct, they are not registered in Canada. As a result, U.S. wheat, regardless of quality, is sold in Canada as "feed" wheat at sharp price discounts compared to Canadian varieties. In June 2006, the Canada Grains Commission announced its intention to make changes to western Canadian wheat classes to include the removal of KVD registration requirements from minor wheat classes, as well as the creation of a new General Purpose wheat class, effective August 1, 2008. The KVD requirements for the higher quality wheat, Canada Western Red Spring and Canada Western Amber Durum, will remain. While these policy changes are a step in the right direction, they only open the door to varietal registration in Canada of lower priced, nonmilling U.S. wheat varieties typically used for feed and industrial end-uses (i.e., biofuels).
On June 5, 2007, the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal upheld the Canadian International Trade Tribunal's decision that U.S. grain corn imports are not causing injury and are not threatening to cause injury to Canadian growers.
Personal Duty Exemption
The United States continues to urge Canada to facilitate cross border trade for border residents by relaxing its taxation of goods that Canadian tourists purchase in the United States. Canada's allowance is linked to the length of a tourist's absence from Canada and allows C$50 for tourists absent for at least 24 hours, and C$400 and C$750 for visits exceeding 48 hours and 7 days, respectively.
Wine and Spirits
Market access barriers in several provinces hamper exports of U.S. wine and spirits to Canada. These include "cost of service" mark-ups, listings, reference prices and discounting distribution and warehousing policies.
The Canadian Wheat Board and State Trading Enterprises
The United States has longstanding concerns about the monopolistic marketing practices of the Canadian Wheat Board. The United States seeks a level playing field for American farmers, including through the Doha Round WTO agriculture negotiations. The U.S. WTO agriculture proposal in these negotiations calls for: (1) the end of exclusive STE export rights to ensure private sector competition in markets currently controlled by single desk exporters; (2) the establishment of WTO requirements to notify acquisition costs; and (3) the elimination of the use of government funds or guarantees to support or ensure the financial viability of single desk exporters.
The Canadian Border Service Agency officials also lack the power to seize counterfeit goods at the border without a court order obtained by the aggrieved rights holder. This makes it easy to bring in pirated goods into Canada. However, the criminal laws allow for a public officer in the course of duty to seize any item discovered to be in violation of the law. Customs can detain suspected counterfeit shipments and contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which can then proceed with investigation under criminal law.
Import Requirements and Documentation
The Canada Border Services Agency website describes the required documents for import. The most important document required from a U.S. exporter is a properly completed Canada Customs Invoice or its equivalent, which is required for all commercial shipments imported into Canada. The exporter can use its own form if it has the required information on it. At the border, the importer or customs broker also submits Form B3, the customs coding form. Further information on Form B3 can be found in the brochure "Importing Commercial Goods into Canada – How to complete Form B3 when importing commercial goods." Other documents that trucking companies will provide for customs clearance may include a cargo control document and bill of lading. Some goods such as food or health-related products may be subject to the requirements of other federal government departments and may need permits, certificates, or examinations.
In addition, to get duty-free status under the NAFTA Rules of Origin, a commercial NAFTA import over CDN$1,600 must be accompanied by a NAFTA Certificate of Origin; while a commercial import less than CDN$1,600 only requires a statement of origin from the exporter that the product originates in a NAFTA state. Canada looks at the products and its component parts to determine whether a sufficient percentage of the value and/or composition of the final product qualifies for NAFTA origin. This can be quite complex and rules vary for each product so U.S. companies should consult the U.S. Department of Commerce’s NAFTA Certificate of Origin Interactive Tool.
There are many customs brokers that can assist U.S. exporters with the details of the import documentation process, including Canada’s non-resident importer program, in which the U.S. exporter in the United States obtains a “business number” and can then be the "importer of record" for purposes of customs clearance. This offers a number of marketing advantages, in particular the opportunity to remove the burden of customs clearance of commercial shipments from the Canadian customer. In fact, large retailers often demand that an exporter does whatever paperwork is required so that all the retailer needs to do is unload the goods from the truck and pay the exporter for the goods. Many brokers advertise their non-resident importer programs on their websites.
For most mail-order shipments, the only paperwork needed is a standard business invoice. Companies should indicate the amount paid by the customer for the goods, in either U.S. or Canadian dollars. If goods are shipped on a no-charge basis (samples or demos) companies must indicate the retail value of the shipment. Two copies of the invoice should be attached to the outside of the package.
U.S. Export Controls
Shipments to Canada do not require a Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) unless the shipment:
- Requires a Department of Commerce export license;
- Is subject to the Department of State, International Traffic in Arms Regulations regardless of license requirements; or
- Is subject to Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, export declaration requirements.
For merchandise transshipped from the United States through Canada for ultimate destination to a foreign country, other than Canada, a SED or Automated Export System (AES) record is required.
Canada allows the temporary import free of duty and tax of certain commercial goods and equipment such as brochures, commercial samples, audio-visual equipment and industrial equipment for business meetings, trade shows, product demonstrations and industrial or construction purposes.
If the goods are eligible for free entry, a refundable security deposit -- in the form of cash or bond -- may be required. Further information on Canada's Form E29B ("temporary entry") and other requirements is available on the U.S. Commercial Service webpage "Temporary Import of Goods into Canada" and Canada Border Services Agency Memorandum D8-1-1 "Temporary Import Regulations."
Prohibited and Restricted Imports
Certain goods may be prohibited or controlled, or require special permits, inspections or conditions to be met in order to allow them into Canada. Canada has a number of special attention and approval systems with regards to such goods.
The Export and Import Controls Bureau (EICB) authorizes, under the discretion of the Minister of International Trade, the import and export of goods restricted by quotas and/or tariffs. It also monitors the trade in certain goods and ensures the personal security of Canadians and citizens of other countries by restricting trade in dangerous goods and other materials. The Canadian Export and Import Permits Act contains an Import Control List.
The Canadian Border Services Agency administers Canada's laws and regulations of other Canadian federal agencies governing prohibited and restricted imports.
Further information on Canadian prohibitions and restricted imports for business travelers is available from the U.S. State Department webpage "Tips for Travelers to Canada."
This chapter gives a detailed overview of Canadian standards development, product testing, and certification systems. Products shipped to Canada must conform to the relevant Canadian standard. In most instances, Canadian and U.S. standards are very similar. As a result, products designed to conform to U.S. standards will often meet Canadian standards with little or no modification. In fact, in some product areas, such as air conditioning and refrigeration, U.S and Canadian standards have been harmonized into a single North American standard. Similarities between U.S. and Canadian standards, however, do not relieve the U.S. exporter of the obligation to meet the Canadian standard.
Both Canada and the United States use slightly different standards when they delineate the precise technical specifications required to ensure public safety. This is an area that standards officials and standards-development organizations explore in great detail. The Canadian view on "the tyranny of small differences" is discussed below in the context of the External Advisory Committee Report on Smart Regulation.
Standards regulations in Canada seek to follow the basic principle of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, and, as such, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) standards must not create unnecessary barriers to trade. As new standards and conformity assessment procedures are being developed there is considerable pressure from end users to reduce or eliminate unnecessary national barriers. At the same time, the international standards community is working on a longer-term project to root out entrenched barriers to trade. To reduce such barriers, NAFTA applies three basic principles to bilateral trade:
- Testing facilities and certification bodies are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner.
- Federal standards-related measures will be harmonized to the greatest extent possible.
- Greater openness will be provided in the regulatory process.
National Standards System
Canada’s National Standards System (NSS) develops, promotes, and implements standards in Canada. The NSS includes more than 400 organizations accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. These organizations are involved in several activities, such as: standards development, product testing and quality (conformity assessment), product or service certification, and environmental management and production systems registration. More than 15,000 Canadian members contribute to committees that develop national or international standards
The NSS, however, does not provide a listing of all Canadian standards. Nor is the system static: organizations can and do join and leave the system. Many standards used in Canada that are not national standards may have been developed by Canadian standards development organizations (SDOs). As such, these standards are usually not interpreted by National Standards of Canada, often because of the cost of translating the standard into both official languages (English and French). In other cases, international, regional, or foreign SDOs, such as the ISO, may have developed the standards. In addition, organizations not accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) develop some standards. Important non-NSS standards include the Building Code, developed by the National Research Council.
Standards Council of Canada
As a federal Crown corporation, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) coordinates standardization activities in Canada, including the designation of National Standards of Canada. Located in Ottawa, the Standards Council has a 15-member governing Council and a staff of approximately 90. The organization reports to Parliament through the Minister of Industry and oversees Canada's National Standards System. The SCC is comprised of representatives from both the federal and provincial governments as well as from a wide range of public and private interests. It prescribes policies and procedures for developing National Standards of Canada, coordinates Canada's participation in the international standards system, and accredits more than 400 organizations involved in standards development, product or service certification, testing and management systems registration activities in Canada. The SCC is independent of government, although it remains partially financed by public funds. SCC members are appointed by the Governor in Council and include a wide range of interests in order to ensure that no one party dominates the policy direction.
U.S. exporters should note that the Standards Council operates Canada’s WTO standards Enquiry Point. The Enquiry Point provides a current database of all current Canadian standards and regulations and makes them available to Canada's trading partners.
NIST Notify U.S. provides a similar function in the United States. It is a free web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets. Registration is available online.
The SCC does not develop standards itself, nor does it conduct any conformity assessments. Rather, under its mandate to coordinate and oversee the efforts of the National Standards System, the SCC accredits testing and certification organizations to conduct conformity assessments and reviews of the standards submitted by standards development organizations for approval as National Standards of Canada. This designation indicates that a standard is the official Canadian standard on a particular subject. It also shows that the development process met certain specified criteria. National Standards of Canada may be developed in Canada or be adopted from international standards – with or without changes.
On the global stage, the SCC serves as the National Enquiry Point for information seekers from around the world concerned with upcoming regulatory and standardization changes impacting trade. Canada is required to provide this service as per their membership in both the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Internationally, the Standards Council manages Canada's participation in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC), and in other various regional standards organizations. It also encourages the adoption and application of international standards in Canada.
More than 400 organizations have been accredited by the Standards Council. Some of these develop standards, while others act as conformity assessment bodies that determine if products are complying with the standard's requirements. The list of accredited organizations includes:
- standards development organizations;
- certification organizations;
- testing and calibration laboratories;
- registration organizations of environmental management systems (EMS) that perform registrations to the ISO 14000 series standards; and
- Auditor-certifiers and trainers that provide QMS and EMS auditors with their training and credentials.
There are four accredited standards development organizations (SDOs) in Canada: the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC), the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB), and the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ). Each of these organizations develops standards through committees representing various interests. SDOs may submit standards to the SCC to be recognized as National Standards of Canada. They can also develop standards-related documents such as codes and guidelines (non-mandatory guidance and information documents). The CSA and ULC are private, not-for-profit organizations. In other words, they are market-oriented to the extent that their activities are governed by the willingness of affected parties to pay for and participate in standardization activities. Although funded primarily through the sale of conformity assessment services, their standards development activities are not restricted to the areas in which they have conformity assessment programs. For example, only about one-third of CSA's 1,800 standards have related conformity assessment service offerings.
By contrast, The BNQ and CGSB are both public sector organizations that run on cost recovery. As with the CSA and ULC, they offer standards development services in addition to conformity assessment services. Also, like the private sector organizations, they do not restrict their standards development activities to cases for which they have or could have conformity assessment programs. However, unlike their private sector counterparts, their standards development activities are not subsidized by the sales of conformity assessment services; rather, they seek funding for each standards development project from stakeholders and interested parties.
Even though the SCC provides secretariat services to all of the Canadian Advisory Committees (CACs/CSCs) that support Canadian representatives on ISO and IEC technical committees, in some cases individual SDOs provide funding for and service the CACs/CSCs. Under the auspices of the SCC, Canadian SDOs also provide the secretariat and funding for some ISO and IEC committees.
None of the four organizations explain on their websites – through an annual plan – the standards they seek to develop. However, their websites do explain their standards development processes and have newsletters available by e-mail subscription and/or other information necessary to assist companies looking to keep up with current developments. Companies should become familiar with the development process, especially the proposal stage. Most importantly, interested companies should become familiar with the members of the specific committees and the experts responsible for the relevant product or industry sector. This will enable them to learn of new standards at the earliest time possible.
Standards organizations in the United States and Canada continue to work cooperatively in the development of joint standards and have made progress in several areas. For example, the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute and the CSA have harmonized performance standards into a single North American standard for air conditioners and heat pumps, packaged water chillers, and water-source heat pumps. Similarly, UL and CSA have established common electrical safety standards for air conditioners, heat pumps, and refrigerant motor-compressors.
The following is an overview of the four Canadian standards development organizations:
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
Founded in 1919, the Canadian Standards Association is Canada's largest and oldest SDO and offers standards development, testing, certification, and management-systems registration services in a wide range of areas. As a private, not-for-profit organization, it has published more than 2,000 consensus standards and guidelines in 40 technology areas. CSA also has 1,300 standards committees. CSA develops standards in the following areas:
- business/management systems
- electrical and electronics
- gas equipment
- health care
- materials technology
Draft standards, draft amendments, and endorsements are available for public review and comment before the committee approves them. The comment period is normally 60 days from the date posted. Comments should be returned as quickly as possible, so that CSA can pass them on to the appropriate committee for review. A list of drafts available for public review is available on CSA's website.
The standards development process under which CSA and other SDOs operate is well developed and formally documented and controlled. As stated on the CSA website, this process includes eight distinct stages:
- Preliminary Stage: On receipt of a request for the development of a standard, an evaluation is conducted and the project is submitted for authorization.
- Proposal Stage: Public notice of intent to proceed is published and a Technical Committee is formed - or the project is assigned to an existing Technical Committee.
- Preparatory Stage: A working draft is prepared and a project schedule is established.
- Committee Stage: The Technical Committee or Technical Subcommittee - facilitated by CSA staff - develops the draft through an iterative process that typically involves a number of committee meetings.
- Enquiry Stage: The draft is offered to the public for review and comment, the Technical Committee reaches consensus, CSA staff conduct a quality review and a pre-approval edit is completed.
- Approval Stage: The Technical Committee approves the technical content by letter ballot or recorded vote. A second level review verifies that standards development procedures were followed.
- Publication Stage: CSA staff conducts a final edit to verify conformity with the applicable editorial and procedural requirements and then publishes and disseminates the standard.
- Maintenance Stage: The standard is maintained with the objective of keeping it up to date and technically valid. This may include the publication of amendments, the interpretation of a standard or clause, and the systematic (five-year) review of all standards.
Endorsed standards are non-Canadian standards that have been reviewed by the appropriate Technical Committee and approved for use in Canada without modification. Endorsed standards are not sold by CSA.
Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC)
Established in 1920 as a not-for-profit organization, Underwriters Laboratories of Canada offers a range of services including: standards development, certification, and testing and management-systems registration in a wide range of areas. It is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada under the National Standards System. The ULC has published a catalog of more than 240 standards and other recognized documents, many of which are referenced in codes and government regulations. The ULC’s standards development process is explained on the ULC website.
The Canadian General Standards Board
Established in 1934 by the federal government, the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) offers a range of standardization services on a cost-recovery basis to both the public and private sectors. These services include standards development, certification and qualification listings, and management-systems registration in a broad range of subject areas. Being part of the federal department of Public Works and Government Services Canada, the CGSB focuses on providing services in support of government mandates and their related programs.
As a participant in the National Standards System of Canada, the CGSB offers a wide range of standards development services including: development of International Standards (ISO), National Standards of Canada (NSC), CGSB standards, specifications, and Government of Canada (GC) forms. CGSB maintains approximately 1,600 standards. Standards and specifications are developed by committees of volunteers, who are experts in their fields working according to the CGSB process. These standards cover a wide range of products and services, including:
- building and construction
- business (office) equipment and supplies
- communications and information technology
- environmental technology
- fuel and energy products
- health care technology
- lifestyles and environment
- public safety
- textiles and clothing
- transportation and distribution
Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ)
The Quebec government established the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ) in 1961 to serve the procurement needs of the provincial government. The BNQ offers a range of standardization services including: standards development, certification, management-systems registration, and laboratory accreditation. As with the other SDOs, the BNQ is reaching beyond its traditional market to offer its services in English in other regions of Canada and in the United States. Since 1990, the BNQ has been part of the Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec. BNQ is also a member organization of the National Standards System of Canada and operates in the fields of:
- standards development;
- product, process, service and person certification; and
- system registration of quality and environmental management systems
The Future of Standards Development in Canada
In a report issued in September 2004, the Canadian federal government’s External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation made a number of recommendations concerning international cooperation in standards development. These included the following comments and recommendations:
- The Canadian federal government should include international regulatory cooperation as a distinct part of Canadian foreign policy.
- North America should be the primary and immediate focus of the federal government's international regulatory cooperation efforts. The federal government should work to:
- When developing new regulatory frameworks, the federal government should review and adopt international approaches wherever possible. The federal government should limit the number of specific Canadian regulatory requirements.
- Specific Canadian regulatory requirements may be appropriate when:
- Where specific Canadian regulatory requirements are adopted, the federal government should reduce or minimize the cumulative impact of regulatory differences on trade and investment by:
If the Canadian government accepts these recommendations, it would make it easier for U.S. exporters to comply with Canadian standards.
NIST Notify U.S. Service
Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets.
Product testing, known as conformity assessment, is usually carried out by a testing and certification organization or laboratory that has been accredited to conduct the test that certifies the product's conformity with the applicable standard. All regulated products must be tested and certified; there is no legal requirement to test non-regulated products. Certification bodies (CBs) attest by authorizing the display of their certification mark, which proves that products or services conform to a standard. They regularly inspect and audit processes and products. There are 12 CBs in Canada and 17 U.S.-based organizations that have been SCC accredited. These organizations have registered trademarks or logos giving a visible indication that products or services comply with a standard.
The Standards Council accredits six types of conformity assessment organizations:
- testing and calibration laboratories
- management systems registration bodies
- personnel certification bodies
- product certification bodies
- inspection bodies
- auditor course providers
U.S. manufacturers and exporters should determine what standards are applicable to their products. If certification is required, it generally must be obtained before the goods are imported into Canada. The process can be time-consuming and, therefore, certification should be one of the first steps taken to establish an export market in Canada.
For U.S. exporters unsure of Canadian certification requirements, the first step is to contact the SCC directly in order to determine: (1) what testing is required, and (2) what organizations are accredited to conduct that testing and certification. For many products, U.S. exporters will learn that a U.S. laboratory has been accredited (see next section below) and the manufacturer needs to only submit the product to one lab instead of spending the time and money to have the product tested by both a U.S. and a Canadian lab.
CSA International, the conformity assessment and product certification organization in the CSA Group, and the other four standards development organizations, ULC, CGSB, and BNQ, are also engaged in conformity assessment and product certification.
The relevant Canadian authority must accredit testing and certification organizations that conduct conformity assessment, which in most cases is the SCC. The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) offers accreditation to over 500 mostly Canadian laboratories that conduct scientific testing in a variety of subjects and program specialty areas through the Program for the Accreditation of Laboratories/Canada, better known by its bilingual acronym PALCAN.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides that testing facilities, inspection agencies, and certification bodies of the United States, Canada and Mexico may be accredited in another NAFTA country without obligation to establish facilities in the other country. Thus, NAFTA allows U.S. exporters to get "one-stop shopping" product approval for both the United States and Canada by submitting their product to only one organization in order to get product certification for both countries. This eliminates the time and expense of obtaining separate certifications for each market. Numerous U.S. testing and certification organizations have received accreditation from the SCC.
Provincial regulations, however, do not fall under the NAFTA accreditation framework. U.S. companies faced with difficulties in obtaining provincial approvals should consult with the U.S. Commercial Service to determine the nature of the problem. In the opinion of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the most contentious regulatory issue for businesses is overlapping federal and provincial/territorial regulations and separate regulatory regimes among the provinces and territories which discourage companies from expanding into new provincial/territorial jurisdictions due to the added costs of regulatory compliance.
Publication of Technical Regulations
The national gazette of Canada is the Canada Gazette.
Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) including the United States and Canada are required under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade to report proposed technical regulations that may affect trade to the WTO Secretariat, who in turn distributes them to all WTO Members.
The U.S. National Center for Standards and Certification (NCSCI) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a free web-based "Notify Us!" service which provides U.S. industry with the opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect their businesses. By registering for this service, U.S. companies receive, via e-mail, notifications of drafts or changes to foreign regulations for a specific industry sector and/or country. Notifications of the proposed foreign regulation contain a description of the regulation, the country issuing the regulation, and a final date for comments. Copies of the full text are available upon request from NSCSI. Companies can register for this service on the Notify U.S. website.
Comments regarding proposed regulatory measures should be emailed to NCSCI prior to the comment deadline date indicated on notifications. All requests for extensions of comment dates will be considered and should also be forwarded to NCSCI
Persons who plan to comment on a foreign regulation should contact NCSCI for guidance. If there is insufficient time to review and comment on the regulation, NCSCI staff will request an extension of the comment period. For more information on NCSCI services for U.S. exporters to Canada, see the NCSCI website.
The U.S. Department of Commerce's Trade Compliance Center serves as a point of contact for U.S. companies to submit information on a foreign trade barrier or unfair trade practice they have encountered that is limiting their ability to export or compete internationally.
Labeling and Marking
The Canadian federal Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act and regulations require consumer product packaging to be bilingual in English and French. However, it does not apply to any product that is a device or drug within the meaning of the Food and Drugs Act. The Canada Food Inspection Agency 2003 Guide to Food Labeling and Advertising discusses the requirements of the Food and Drug Act. According to Competition Bureau Canada, the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act requires that the following information must appear on the package/label of a consumer goods sold in Canada:
Product Identity Declaration: describes a product's common or generic name, or its function. The declaration must be in both English and French.
Net Quantity Declaration: must be expressed in metric units of volume when the product is a liquid or a gas, or is viscous; or in metric units of weight when the product is solid or by numerical count. Net quantity may also be expressed in other established trade terms.
Dealer's Name and Principal Place of Business: where the prepackaged product was manufactured or produced for resale. In general, a name and address sufficient for postal delivery is acceptable. This information can be in either English or French.
The agency responsible for inspection of imports, the Canada Border Services Agency, also requires an indication of the country of origin, such as "Made in the USA," on several classes of imported goods. Goods not properly marked cannot be released from Canada Customs until suitably marked.
The Province of Quebec requires that all products sold in that province be labeled in French and that the use of French be given equal prominence with other languages on any packages or containers. The Charter of the French Language requires the use of French on product labeling, warranty certificates, product manuals, instructions for use, public signs and written advertising. The Office québécois de la langue française (Quebec Office of the French Language) website provides guidance on these requirements.
U.S. exporters of textile and apparel should check the website of Industry Canada's Competition Bureau for specific labeling requirements. Food exporters should check the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Guide to Food Labeling and Advertising.
For example, Canadian requirements for foods fortified with vitamins and minerals have created a costly burden for American food manufacturers who export to Canada. Health Canada restricts marketing of breakfast cereals and other products, such as orange juice, that are fortified with vitamins and/or minerals at certain levels. Canada's regulatory regime requires that products such as calcium-enhanced orange juice be treated as a drug. This forces manufacturers to label vitamin and mineral fortified breakfast cereals as "meal replacements." These standards impose costs on manufacturers who must make separate production runs for the U.S. and Canadian markets.
In March 2005, the Government of Canada released for public consideration a draft policy on supplemental fortification of food and beverages that reflects the study on Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) undertaken by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM). Industry welcomed the draft policy as it may offer more latitude to manufacturers for discretionary fortification of foods and beverages than the current regulatory regime. The new policy may reduce the cross-border discrepancy in fortification rules. Regulations came into force in late 2007. They may still present barriers to efficient cross-border trade.
Also, Canada's Processed Products Regulations (Canada Agricultural Products Act) prescribe standard container sizes for a wide range of processed fruit and vegetable products. No other NAFTA country imposes such mandatory container size restrictions. The Processed Products Regulations require manufacturers of baby food to sell in only two standardized container sizes: 4.5 ounces (128 ml) and 7.5 ounces (213 ml). The requirement to sell in container sizes that exist only in Canada creates an unnecessary obstacle to trade in baby food between Canada and the United States. Canada claims that the regulations are being rewritten and suggests that U.S. concerns will be addressed. However, it appears that the effort to revise the regulations has stalled, as there has been no progress for the past several years.
Finally, Industry Canada is charged with ensuring that any claims about a product being "environmentally-friendly" are accurate and in compliance with relevant legislation. In general, environmental claims that are ambiguous, misleading or irrelevant, or that cannot be substantiated, should not be used. In all cases, environmental claims should indicate whether they are related to the product itself or to the product's packaging materials. The Canadian government has issued a set of guiding principles governing the use of environmental labeling and advertising, which may be obtained by contacting Industry Canada.