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flag Canada Canada: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Main International Economic Cooperation
NAFTA Trilateral
Member of the NACC (North American Competitiveness Council)
Full member of the OAS (Organization of American States)
Member of the Commonwealth
Participates in the forums of the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)
Free Trade Agreement with Jordan
Free Trade Agreement with Panama

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Non Tariff Barriers
The Canada Customs Act (en inglés) which regulates the Canadian import system, corresponds to a free trade model in which most imports do not need any authorization. There are however what is known as tariff quotas, especially for wheat, barley, beef and cheese. To be granted this quota you must request a General Import Permit, for which you must produce a pro forma invoice at the Export and Import Controls Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Trade.

Canada uses supply management systems - which involve production quotas, producer marketing boards to regulate price and supply, and border protection achieved through tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) - to regulate its dairy, chicken, turkey, and egg industries. Alcoholic beverages are subject to interprovincial shipping restrictions, and are regulated differently in each province, for example through sales quotas, requirements for in-province agents and specific labeling.The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) imposes quotas that determine both the minimum Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) and the minimum amount of Canadian programming that licensed Canadian broadcasters must carry (Exhibition Quota).
Some goods are prohibited, especially importing second hand motorized vehicles, except for vehicles coming from the USA (the rules are becoming more flexible for Mexico), as well as weapons, munitions, nuclear materials and goods of a similar nature. Health Canada restricts the marketing of breakfast cereals and other products, such as orange juice, that are fortified with vitamins and/or minerals at certain levels. Processed Products Regulations prescribe standard container sizes for a wide range of processed fruit and vegetable products.

The rules of origin allowing reduction of duties, especially for textiles, have been draconian since the agreements within the NAFTA (annex 401 on the original rules, incorporated afterwards in national legislation). These rules are considerably favorable to products which have proof of their origin in the USA.
Moreover, Canada is one of the big users of anti-dumping measures, with more than 85 products concerned (SIMA, Special Import Measures Act). These measures affect 35 countries or Customs areas (including the EU, for example). More than 50% of the products concerned are metallurgical.
For further information about import regulations and procedures in Canada, please consult the article Importing Goods into Canada produced by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
The average rate is about 4.8%.

To know the Customs tariff in Canada, please consult the article Customs Tariff produced by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Customs Classification
Import Procedures
To know what to do to import a product into Canada, consult the Guide to Importing of the Canada Border Services Agency.
For imported goods to clear Customs the following documents are needed: release with full accounting and payment (paper option); release on minimum documentation (RMD) (paper or EDI option); G7 Import One Step Release on Full Documentation (RFD) (EDI option).
For further information, consult the Canada Border Services Agency website.
Importing Samples
For import, export and re-export of commercial samples the ATA carnet is generally used. It must be written on the product that it is a free sample and that it may not be sold. A maximum quantity or value may however be applied.
For further information, consult the Canada Business website.
For Further Information
Canada Border Services Agency
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
Today, the Canadian consumer is more and more aware of the problems of the environment and overconsumption. He looks more closely at the quality of a product, its origin, its composition and its price,  particularly in the wake of the 2009 global financial crisis. However, he remains excessively subjected to advertising and is inclined to buy trendy products. Canadian customers demand high-quality sales service and after-sale customer support. Establishing a toll-free telephone number is extremely useful in maintaining contact with customers.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
The Canadians' standard of living is one of the highest in the world.
At the present time, purchasing behavior is changing especially among young adult Canadians. Their objective, for most of them, is to finish their studies, buy a property and have children. Middle-aged adults and baby-boomers (the 1946-1966 generation) treat themselves to many leisure activities. Canadians care about their food and do not hesitate to buy natural, organic healthfoods. Everything concerning comfort and well-being is very important.
Consumers Associations
The Consumer Association of Canada
OPC , Consumer Protection Office
Alberta Consumers' Association
Main Advertising Agencies
Cossette Group Blitz Direct
Alpha Vision

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
The size of the country, some 10 million km2, complicates distribution on a national scale. Big companies have set up nerve centers for warehousing and redistribution of goods all over Canada. Most of these redistribution centers are located in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
The difficulty involved in getting to the various regions, the distinctive features of each of them, make marketing a product complex. The Office of Consumer Affairs is the national authority for monitoring and regulating consumption in Canada. The majority of sales to Canadian companies are handled through relatively short marketing channels; and in many cases, products move directly from manufacturer to end-user. Ninety percent or more of prospective customers for industrial products are located in or near two or three major cities. Canada's consumer goods market is more widely dispersed than its industrial market.
Market Shares
In the 1990s, the Canadian distribution market underwent changes after the arrival of American distributors like Costco (cash & carry reserved for professionals), Wal-Mart (hypermarkets) and Home-Dépot (DIY-hardware-decoration).
The food trade sector is very concentrated and dominated by a few big groups especially the national names Sobey and Loblaw with the American Wal-mart.
Organizations in the Retail Sector
AMDEQ (Association of shopkeepers, convenience storekeepers and grocers of Quebec)
Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Canada possesses an advanced transportation system.

Road transport of goods accounts for 50% of commercial freight. Canada is ranked number one for road provision among all G7 countries. Canada's railway system is the third largest among OECD countries. Vancouver is Canada's biggest port and is constantly classified among the first five North American ports in terms of tonnage of imports and exports. It is the biggest bulk goods port on the west coast of North America with a tonnage of more than 80 million tons.
All the ports of eastern Canada amount to 68.9 MT.
Port of Montreal
Port of Quebec
Port of Halifax
Port of Toronto
Port of Vancouver
Alliance of the Ports of Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States
Montréal Trudeau Airport
Vancouver International Airport
Calgary Airport
Ottawa Airport
Toronto Airport
Sea Transport Organizations
Transport Canada
Air Transport Organizations
Canadian Air Transport Security Authority
Road Transport Organizations
Transport Canada: Road
Canada Border Services Agency
Rail Transport Organizations
Canadian Transportation Agency

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The type of production differs according to the province. The following list shows the industry responsible for GDP growth by province and by territory:


Alberta: Petrochemicals and oil sands
British Columbia: Natural Gas
Manitoba: Canola (colza) and Wheat
Saskatchewan: Mining and cereal growing
Newfoundland and Labrador: Nickel and oil fields
New Brunswick: Wood pulp
Prince Edward Island: Agriculture
Nova Scotia: Services sector
Quebec: Hydro-electric energy, Aerospace, Metal processing and pharmaceuticals
Ontario: Construction
Nunavut: Diamond mines
North West Territories: Mineral and oil exploration
Yukon: Mineral extraction and exploration

Source : Canada's Performance Report, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Bell Business Directory - Search for products or services. - Canada's research-based pharmaceutical companies.
Canadian Agro-Food Product Suppliers - Links to a national, provincial and sector specific database provided by the Agriculture and Agro-Food Canada.
Canadian and US Organic Businesses - Members of the Organic Trade Association.
Canadian Association of Mining Equipment and Services for Export - Members directory - Directory of over 230 Canadian suppliers of mining equipment and services for export.
Canadian Business Directory - Help for businesses to promote their products and services.
Canadian Company Capabilities - Business directory provided by Industry Canada. Find companies that can supply your organization with the goods, services and technology it needs.
Canadian Importers Database - Directory of Canadian Importers provided by Industry Canada.
Canadian Manufacturing - Frasers industrial supply companies.
Canadian Planet - A search engine for companies in Canada.
Company Directories by Industrial Sector - Business Directory provided by Industry Canada. Find directories of Canadian companies by sector.
Construction in Canada - Building contractors directory in Canada.
Franchise Direct Canada - Browse franchises listed by industry. Choose the best franchise opportunity from these industry categories.
Industry Canada - Provided by Industry Canada, The Canadian Environmental Solutions (CES) is a directory of export-oriented Canadian companies providing technologies and services directed to the environmental challenges faced by every sector of the economy.
Industry Canada Company Directories - Links to Canadian business directories.
Manitoba Business Information Services - The Manitoba Companies Directory is compiled through a joint-sponsored survey conducted by the Governments of Canada and Manitoba.
Quebec Manufacturers and Wholesalers - Quebec's company profiles.
Robotics Online - Online resource for industrial robotics in Canada and the U.S.
White and Yellow Pages - Find a business in Canada. - Canada - Directory of companies in Canada.
Canada Trade Index - A Mac Rae's industrial directory.
Canadaone Business Directory - Canadian business directory.
Franchise Gator - Business and franchise opportunities directory for entrepreneurs.
Industry Canada - Find a business in Canada.
Scott's directories - Canada's source for business contact information. - Directory of companies in Canada.
ThomasNet - Database of Canadian and U.S. suppliers.
Zipleaf - Business directory for several countries in the world.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
88 professional associations listed for Canada.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Association of Local Development Centers in Quebec
Business Development Bank of Canada
Enterprises Federation
Canada Business
Businessman Information

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Last Updates: October 2014