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Canada - Selling and buying

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

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: 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.
Main advertising agencies:

Distribution network

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.
Types of outlet: 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.

Market access procedures

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.

Average Customs Duty (excluding agricultural products): 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: Yes
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.

Organizing goods transport

Organizing goods transport to and from: 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.
Sea transport organizations:
Air transport organizations:
Rail transport organizations:

Domestic business directories

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