Following up on a Budget 2021 commitment to “strengthen and improve access to Canada’s trade remedy system,” earlier this summer, the Trudeau government launched public consultations on potential amendments to the Special Import Measures Act and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, and related regulations, as well as measures being considered to improve access to the system for workers and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Manufacturers and other stakeholders currently have until September 26 to provide input on changes to Canada’s trade laws that could have a significant impact on their businesses.
According to its consultation paper, the government is looking for feedback on potential measures in five areas:
Unionized Worker Participation:
Whether to give unions the explicit right to file trade remedy complaints and whether to expand the factors it considers in determining injury to include the effect of imports on workers.
Duty Circumvention Investigations:
Whether SIMA should be amended to clarify the applicable standard to initiate anti-circumvention investigations and to make the process more transparent by aligning it more closely with that used for initiating dumping and subsidy investigations.
Whether the CITT should be required to collect information on “massive importations”—the practice of avoiding additional duties by increasing imports just before the SIMA measures go into place—beginning 90 days before the initiation of an investigation. Also, the government is considering shortening the window for notifying foreign governments and introducing a more flexible standard under which retroactive duties are applied where such importations are likely to seriously undermine the intended effect of the additional duties.
Whether SIMA should be amended to require that the CITT automatically initiate expiry reviews of all trade remedy orders before they expire. Under current law, the onus is on Canadian producers to prevent the expiry of a trade remedy order after 5 years. In this regard, the government also considering amending SIMA with a new provision allowing the CITT to terminate an expiry review if it becomes apparent the review lacks support from domestic producers.
Improving Access for SMEs:
Whether the government should create a dedicated independent trade remedy counseling unit to provide free-of-charge assistance to companies negatively affected by imports or trade remedy duties. Although limited efforts to assist SMEs (producers with < 500 employees) have had some success, the government recognizes that navigating through the complexities of the trade remedy system remains a challenge for many companies. The proposed new unit would provide assistance to companies of all sizes, including step-by-step counseling for those smaller firms needing further support.
How to Comment
Due to COVID-19 public health considerations, email submissions are preferred. Comments should be sent via email to Finance Canada with “Trade Remedies Consultations” as the subject line.
Unless extended, comments must be received by no later than September 26, 2021.