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Niagara Foreign Trade Zone established

Niagara Centre Liberal MP Vance Badawey supports the FTZ designation.

On April 15, the Government of Canada announced “the designation of the Niagara Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Point, serving the region’s 12 municipalities from east of Hamilton to the United States border.” According to the media releases, “This is the first FTZ Point established in Ontario.”

The federal government claims, “The FTZ Point will promote Niagara as a hub for international trade and will attract foreign and domestic investment.”

The Welland Tribune reports, “The designation announced last week — the culmination of a decade of work by local economic development organizations — gives the region a competitive edge in luring investment, by offering easier access to government programs allowing qualified companies the ability to defer taxes and tariffs charged on goods being imported.”

The Windsor Star further explains, “Duty deferrals, duty refunds, customs and tax exemptions and more are included in FTZ programming. Additionally, a task force of federal, provincial, and municipal representatives will meet regularly with Niagara region industry exporters.”

“Foreign trade zones” were established in Winnipeg in 2008, in Edmonton and Calgary in June 2015, in Halifax in July 2015, in Regina in August 2015, and in Port Sydney in February 2016.. Gander International Airport in Newfoundland and Labrador has also been designated a foreign trade zone.

Of the Regina FTZ, a spokesperson for the Global Transportation Hub Authority – Canada’s only autonomous and self-governing inland port authority – says it has made Saskatchewan’s capital city more attractive to foreign investors. Kelly Brossart highlights, “It does offer them that eligibility for the different programs that the federal government offers, like tariff and tax exemptions and duty deferrals.”

In June 2012, the Council of Canadians organized public forums in Vancouver and Ladner to raise concerns about proposed foreign trade zones at the Port of Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport. At that time, Delta-Richmond chapter activist Cathy Wilander commented, “Foreign trade zones are also referred to as free trade zones or economic trade zones in other places. Governments section off land to create special investment climates for business and industry. What this usually means is the opportunity to do business without environmental and social policies/labour regulations to restrict corporations and business.”

The federal government is currently considering an application to make Windsor-Essex a foreign trade zone.

To read our past commentary on foreign trade zones in Alberta and British Columbia, please click here.