With the recent signing of the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, businesses on both sides of the Atlantic will be looking to take advantage of new cost savings and to explore new markets.
If you’re one of those businesses, you probably already know Canada is a very attractive market with a strong appetite for foreign imports, particularly in agriculture and food products, apparel and accessories and many other goods. For those European enterprises that cater to the business community, there is substantial demand for European engineered machinery, digital innovation and much more.
But if capitalizing on the advantage of CETA is your first foray into the world of global trade, be forewarned that importing a product into a foreign country can often be a complex web of administrative and regulatory processes that can quickly become burdensome and costly if not carried out correctly. While free trade agreements serve to eliminate tariffs, they also require products and services to qualify for that tariff removal, which can often be an arduous process.
The good news is that there is a wealth of resources for businesses who need support with customs clearance in Canada. An experienced Canadian customs broker can make the process of clearing goods at international borders seamless and cost-effective, but not all customs brokers are created equal. Here’s what to look for when evaluating a partner to facilitate customs clearance in Canada.
Location! Location! Location!
The strategic location has always been a fundamental aspect of business success, and that’s particularly true for customs brokers. Look for a customs broker that has a presence at major international border crossings. This is critical as those with a strong border presence have established relationships with customs and border officials who they can contact in the event a shipment is held at the border. This limits the number of delays and the length of delays so that businesses can ensure their products get to market expediently.
Given the size of Canada and its market diversity, many of the European businesses that export to the Canadian market will likely test a few local markets with a limited number of products before expanding to a regional, provincial and eventually national level.
When considering a partner for customs clearance in Canada, you’ll want to find a Canadian customs broker that has a national presence so that it can continue to support your business as it expands its market presence in Canada.
More importantly, however, you will want a broker that has the capacity to also serve as a strategic business partner and advisor. For example, in addition to customs brokerage, Livingston International offers freight forwarding, global trade management and consulting services. This suite of service offerings allows Livingston to help businesses establish strategic supply chains in a manner that meets national safety and quality standards, reduces time in transit, avoids border delays and customs-related penalties, and identifies potential supply-chain obstacles.
Depending on where your business is located and where your goods are entering Canada, there could be as little as three and a half hours of time difference between you and where your goods are going through customs clearance in Canada or as much as 10 hours.
If there’s an issue at the border, you want to ensure you’re able to get hold of your customs broker regardless of the time of day. Be sure your Canadian customs broker is available all times of the day, even in the middle of the night, so they can respond quickly to resolve any issues there may be in clearing your goods.
This is particularly important for exporters with perishable products that have finite transit times, as well as for shippers who have customers with time-sensitive requirements.
In today’s world, very little happens offline. That’s no less true in the world of customs, where customs authorities, such as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), connect directly with the systems of customs brokers to seamlessly exchange data.
Be sure your customs provider has a secure and reliable technology platform to ensure your customs information isn’t lost during Canadian customs clearance and be sure you are able to send and store information on a common platform with your broker to reduce the burden of paperwork and automate your Canadian customs clearance process.
These are only a few considerations on how to choose a partner for Canadian customs clearance.
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