Safeguards are exceptional measures intended to temporarily assist domestic producers that have suffered, or are threatened by serious injury from increased imports of specific goods. Unlike anti-dumping or anti-subsidy investigations, these subject goods may be fairly traded but nonetheless cause injury.
In Canada, safeguards can take the form of: (i) an import surtax under Division 4 of the Canadian Customs Tariff, or (ii) a restriction on import volumes, such as an import quota or tariff-rate quota, under the Export and Import Permits Act. The Governor-in-Council (i.e., federal Cabinet) has the authority to impose safeguards:
i. on a provisional basis and only in the form of a surtax, after a report by the minister of finance, in “critical circumstances” for up to 200 days, or
ii. following an inquiry by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (“CITT”).
Safeguard inquiries by the CITT are governed by a set of complex legal rules and procedures set out in the CITT Act, CITT Regulations and the CITT Rules. This booklet provides a brief but thorough outline of the principal elements of Canada’s safeguards legislation. However, any person involved in a safeguard proceeding should seek the guidance of an experienced, Canadian trade lawyer regarding the application of the law and strategic options that optimize commercial outcomes.