Bipartisan Governors Seek De Minimis Parity for US Small Businesses in NAFTA Negotiations

December 5, 2017

A group of bipartisan governors from the around the country recently sent a letter asking US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian negotiators ahead of meetings on NAFTA to modernize and increase the long-standing de minimis level for low value goods entering Canada. They highlighted how raising de minimis levels would cut red tape at borders that often slow deliveries and increases costs, hurting US and Canadian businesses and consumers alike.

Every country sets its own de minimis threshold, which is the threshold below which imports enter a buyer’s country with little to no paperwork and duty- and tax-free. This issue is visible in North America where American and foreign sellers must confront low de minimis thresholds when selling to buyers in Canada and Mexico. The United States recently raised its de minimis threshold on imported goods to $800, while Canada’s C$20 (US$15) threshold remains among the lowest in the industrialized world. eBay supports increased de minimis thresholds globally to remove frictions from the global marketplace and ensure small businesses can provide high-quality buyer experiences, regardless of where their buyer is located.

As the governors wrote, “When a de minimis level is too low, the combined effects of the tariffs and the administrative collection process inflate the total cost of otherwise inexpensive goods. Low de minimis levels are particularly burdensome for consumers, small businesses, and manufacturers who rely on sourcing small components from a variety of suppliers.” They continued, “Raising the Canadian de minimis threshold will strengthen the North American supply chain. It will benefit businesses and consumers in both Canada and the United States so that commerce between our two countries can continue to prosper.”

Many trade policies across the globe were written before Internet-enabled trade, and need to be modernized to support small businesses that use the Internet to access the global marketplace.  eBay will continue to advocate for small ecommerce businesses by urging governments across the globe to come together and support small business trade by increasing customs de minimis thresholds to commercially meaningful levels. 

We would like to thank Utah Governor Herbert, Connecticut Governor Malloy, Oregon Governor Brown, Maine Governor LePage, Maryland Governor Hogan, Montana Governor Bullock, Massachusetts Governor Baker and Virginia Governor McAuliffe for their leadership on this issue and support of small business exporting.