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eBay Report Calls for Customs Policy Changes to Facilitate Trade for Tech-Enabled Small Businesses

Posted October 30, 2014

A recent report published by eBay Canada, Commerce 3.0: How Technology is Empowering Canadian Entrepreneurs to Grow Globally, says the Canadian government can help drive export activity among a rapidly growing cohort of technology-enabled small businesses by removing barriers to the free flow of goods across the country’s borders.

In the past, the sole participants in, and beneficiaries of, international trade have been large businesses. Now that technology is enabling businesses of all sizes to enjoy the benefits of trade, trade policy could come to play an important role also for smaller businesses across Canada. Global trade has often been painted in the public sentiment as an arena dominated by large businesses, technology could help to change the prism through which global trade is analyzed and discussed.

One recommendation made is that the import duty exemption threshold – a measurement that determines the maximum value of goods that can be shipped without duties often referred to as the personal exemption limit (PEL) or de minimis level – be raised from $20 to $200. The suggestion is based on an internal research study showing technology-enabled businesses, such as those led by eBay sellers, are dramatically more export-oriented than their brick-and-mortar counterparts and that the current PEL impedes their business-growth potential.

In addition to raising the PEL, the eBay report makes a series of other policy recommendations aimed at simplifying customs processes for small, technology-enabled businesses, including a call to facilitate small business participation in trusted trader programs, such as the Partnership in Protection (PIP) program, which allows trusted shippers to expedite the transport of goods across the Canada-U.S. border. The document notes that a 2011 OECD evaluation report concluded that Canada’s trusted-trader program has room for expansion and calls on the government to revisit its risk-assessment protocols for micro-businesses.