A Word from the General Manager - February 2015

February 1, 2015

Who does the lobbying for your business?

Brian Isard

Two points to consider:

1. Our federal government has made it a priority to expand global trade under the Global Markets Action Plan

Since 2007 Canada has completed seven new free trade agreements with 37 countries with another agreement in negotiation with the 11 countries that make up the Trans Pacific Partnership. These free trade deals are expected to have significant impact in the years to come on our trade with the rest of the world. For Canadian manufacturers and shippers, international trading networks and global supply chains are the means by which trade is organized. 

2. Behind these new trade agreements there is a small army of lobbyists and industry associations representing various segments of Canada’s economy, everyone from automotive manufacturing to agricultural exporters advocating on behalf of their group’s special interests. There are well over 700 registered lobbyists paid to bend the ear of the decision makers in the federal government?

Smaller companies don’t have the incomes like large multi-nationals to fund research into Canada’s trade policy and lobby the federal government to ensure that new agreements and policies do not put their business at a competitive disadvantage. 

Have you considered who is working on your behalf to:

  • help secure access to global markets?
  • identify and mediate tariff and non-tariff barriers to export trade?
  • represent your priority concerns in the development of trade policy and global standards?

In order to ensure that our voice is being heard, Association staff have spent over 400 hours last year researching, assembling submissions, consulting with user groups, meeting with key decision makers in both the federal government, and forming alliances with other members of the wood products industry to support our interests in new legislation affecting our industry such as the new Canadian Heat Treated Wood Products Certification Program (D-13-01).

We have a strong voice at the table through our participation in two federally sponsored groups. The Wood Products Certification Committee and the Canadian Forest Phytosanitary Working Group are both structured to ensure that the Canadian wood products industry maintains its well-earned reputation as a supply chain leader in safe trade.

Have you considered who monitors the rules of our major trading partners and how they are interpreted?

Case in point, recently one of our members, who handles the wood packaging needs for a large Canadian based manufacturer, called about wood packaging he had provided for a piece of high value equipment which had been stopped at the US border for undisclosed reasons. We advised them to have the freight forwarder remove the packaging from the border site before it was allowed to go into quarantine, which was done. By the next day customs had sorted the issue out and the shipment was on its way again. The shipper avoided a substantial late delivery penalty and the client was very satisfied with the way our member handled the problem. 

Increasingly the value embedded in the goods being sold is generated by services and knowledge. Our Association functions as a Knowledge Center for inquiries related to trade not just for members but increasingly for the exporting companies using wood packaging.

Our association staff received a steady flow of questions and requests for support for members dealing with global supply chain barriers with their export packaging on such issues as:

  • Customs and administrative procedures such as product classification. The classification of a product according to the various customs' product categories will almost certainly impact the duty that is applied to that imported good.
  • Inconsistent application of regulations that are involved in new and used pallets crossing international borders.
  • Tariffs which are a tax that is placed on imported goods in order to restrict the amount of imported goods coming into the country.
  • Phytosanitary standards  and how they are applied to wood products.

CWPCA is well positioned to support our members and advocate for policies that support better market access. In order to help us do this, we would like to create a database of export related issues on the members only side of our website. We ask that members submit details on shipments being held or refused at customs. Not only will this identify emerging patterns that we can address as an Association, but members can know who to contact for advice on how to deal with a specific country.

Successful Canadian manufacturers know the importance of working together to help make government policies more responsive. Next time someone asks what value association membership brings to them, perhaps you can suggest they try and affect government policy development on their own. Suggest that they try ringing up the federal government themselves, finding the right agency to handle their inquiry and then getting them to take action on their concerns.

Let me know how that works out for them.

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