By  on October 7, 2009

MONTREAL — The Canadian government plans to eliminate import duties paid on textiles used in apparel manufacturing in the next five years.

Although the Department of Finance will consider requests for continued tariff protection for specific products, any duties that remain in place after consultation would be phased out over a period of five years.

“We’ve been going after them for the last 20 or 30 years to get duties eliminated,” said Bob Kirke, executive director of the Canadian Apparel Federation, an Ottawa-based lobby group.

Kirke estimated his group’s members pay import duties of $40 million annually.

“Very few mills are left, and the ones that are still here are really not protected by duties because their prices are so expensive,” he said. “Nobody will use them unless for short runs.”

The elimination of duties, which ran as high as 14 percent on some textiles, could help local manufacturers maintain their production levels and encourage others to bring some offshore production back to Canada, Kirke suggested.

Despite the five-year plan, Kirke is encouraging his members to lobby government officials to remove most duties in the first year.

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