The 2019 Highlights Of Trade In Canada

The 2019 Highlights Of Trade In Canada

The Trade community saw many developments and challenges in the past year. Here is a small sampling of some of the initiatives and disruptions in Canada that the trade community faced in 2019.

CBSA Single Window Initiative

The Single Window Initiative (SWI), a program implemented by CBSA to streamline the sharing of data between the import community and the Canadian government became mandatory April 1, 2019. Importers and brokers were advised to onboard with the Single Window Initiative (SWI) and the Integrated Import Declaration (IID). CBSA extended the decommissioning of the legacy Other Government Department (OGD) Release Service Options (PARS SO 463 and RMD SO471) to April 1, 2020.

More information about SWI can be found at Deadline Of Single Window Initiative Extended By CBSA


Canadians like other countries have embraced electronic commerce amid a major disruption in retail channels. In fact, in 2018 there were 19.8 million e-commerce users in Canada and there is expected to be an additional 5.21 million users shopping online by 2021. Increased online shoppers mean that retail e-commerce sales in Canada continue to climb, both in real terms and as a proportion of total retail.

According to Statistics Canada, in the first two months of 2019, retail e-commerce sales accounted for US $2.2 million. It is estimated that retail e-commerce sales will total US $47.9 million by 2020. Retailers are investing in digital platforms to reach consumers dispersed over a vast landmass while responding to competition from global competitors such as Amazon Canada.

The growing prevalence of e-commerce is challenging the CBSA to keep pace with rising volumes in the postal and courier modes. CBSA finds itself trying to maintain a delicate balance between trade facilitation and customs enforcement.

Assistance on e-commerce imports can be found at our How To Guide On Ecommerce Importing Or Exporting From Canada

Labor Disruptions

Strikes, lockouts and work stoppages cause disruptions in the supply chain when it comes to imports and exports. Most importers and exporters would agree that these disruptions damage Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner. With the new advances in technology and common use of new supply chain practices such as “just in time” any interruptions in the supply chain can have damaging effects.

Three major disruptions occurred last year wherein CN experienced a strike and subsequent settlement in November 2019. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada workers were locked out at ports in B.C. for approximately 4- 5 days reaching a settlement with the assistance of the Federal Government.

Canada Post risked a labour disruption in December of 2019 and is now in arbitration until June of 2020.

Tsawwassen Marine Container Examination Facility 

In 2019 CBSA opened and began operation of the Tsawwassen Marine Container Examination Facility (MCEF) in Roberts Bank, B.C. CBSA in partnership with the Vancouver Port Authority seeks to improve the commercial examination process with the opening of the MCEF. CBSA is continuing to improve the examination capacity of MCEF by developing and deploying new detection tools and procedures within the facility.

Check out our blog on this new facility: Your Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility Update

United States Canada Mexico Agreement

In 2019 NAFTA was rewritten and with a few changes renamed the United States Canada Mexico Agreement (USMCA) or Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Mexico ratified the new agreement immediately. The agreement passed the US Congress in December of 2019 and subsequently the US Senate in January 2020. In Canada, the agreement was stalled from passing in the House of Commons upon the dissolving of the 42nd Canadian Parliament ahead of the federal elections in October 2019. It will now be reintroduced to the 43rd Parliament, which assembles at the end of January 2020. It is likely to pass sometime in February 2020.

The agreement comes into full force 90 days after the last signatory ratifies the agreement so sometime in the late spring it should be law.

Check out the new NAFTA at USMCA Details | United States Mexico Canada Agreement | NAFTA 2.0

CBSA Assessment And Revenue Management

The CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management (CARM) project was implemented in a series of releases, which continued through 2019. CARM's intent is to automate the processes required to assess, collect, manage and report on revenue and to further enable importers to self-assess and comply with Canada’s trade requirements.

In 2019 and 2020 CBSA will continue its ongoing work with a third party vendor and engagement with key stakeholders and as such will incrementally modernize the functionality of CARM in late 2020-21. CARM will be fully implemented by 2021-22.

More about CARM can be found at How Will CBSA's CARM Client Portal Affect You?

Safe Food For Canadians Regulations

On January 15, 2019, the Canadian Food Agency’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into effect. These Regulations address the requirements that apply to businesses and individuals importing food into Canada.

The SFCR consolidated 14 sets of regulations, including the Organic Regulations into one. The three main components of the SFCR are licensing, traceability, and preventive controls.

On January 15, 2020, a SFCR license is mandatory to import certain foods into Canada.

For more information on these Regulations read our blog at Do You Have Your SFCR License Yet?

Repeal Of The U.S. Surtaxes On Steel And Aluminum

On May 19, 2019, the U.S. Surtax order on Steel and Aluminum and the Order on other goods imposing a surtax on certain products originating in the United States was repealed. Importers no longer needed to pay this surtax.

For more information on the surtaxes and the repeal read: U.S. Lifts Tariffs On Steel And Aluminum

Should you have any questions regarding these or other changes or challenges with respect to your imports or exports please contact one of our Trade Advisors.

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About the Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined PCB Customs Brokers in 2015 as a Senior Trade Advisor. She retired from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2015 after serving more than 37 years. Jan started her career with CBSA as a summer student in 1976 and worked part-time until she graduated from U.B.C. with a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1980 . Shortly after graduating from U.B.C. Jan worked full time as an inspector with CBSA and within three years was promoted to Superintendent. She served some time in the Regional Operations office as an Operations Review Officer before she was promoted to Chief of Operations first at the Customs Mail Centre, then in the Metro District as the Commercial Chief and ending her career as a Chief at Pacific Highway Commercial Operations where she served as Chief from 1992 to 2015. During her career she was a member of the Customs Drug Team and a trainer in the National Enforcement Program. Jan also served as the Regional Coordinator Officer Powers and Use of Force for the Pacific Region. Jan served on many Commercial Program Reviews and committees both national and regional during her career and possesses an expansive knowledge of importing and exporting into and from Canada.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.