New Canadian duty-free rule seen as boon to N.H.
An increase in duty-free allowances for Canadian visitors to the United States could help boost cross-border shopping in New Hampshire and other border states this summer to levels not seen in two decades, according to a top Canadian economist."Canadians will flock to Maine, Michigan and Minnesota en masse, as well as the border states of New York, Washington and New Hampshire," wrote Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist for Bank of Montreal subsidiary BMO Capital Markets in a recent report.The anticipated flood of cross-border shoppers has to do in part with upcoming increases in the amount of duty-free goods Canadians are permitted to bring back over the border.Starting in June, Canadians who visit the U.S. for more than 24 hours will be allowed to bring $200 in duty-free goods back into their country -- a fourfold raise from the current limit of $50.And for visits lasting longer than 48 hours, the limit will be boosted to $800, up from the previous cap of $400 for a weeklong visit and $750 for visits longer than a week."It's a positive thing, because now Canadians will be able to spend more and bring back more without paying duty on it," said Nancy Kyle, president of the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire.The more forgiving allowances -- coupled with U.S. retail prices are an average of about 14 percent lower than in Canada -- are "likely to lead to a notable upswing of Canadians cross-border shopping this summer, in numbers not seen in two decades," wrote Porter.Same-day Canadian visits to the United States. peaked in the early 1990s, following the introduction in 1991 of the federal Goods and Services tax and a strong Canadian dollar (or loonie, as it's commonly called.)While many factors have kept same-day visits below those record-setting levels of the early 90s -- including border delays and hassles, high gas prices, the availability of online shopping, and passport requirement for trips to the U.S. -- there are still a huge number of Canadians traveling south now.Nationwide, there are about 50 million visits to the U.S. by Canadians annually -- or about 1.5 visits for every person in Canada, wrote Porter. -- KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW