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TV, iPod prices to jump?

OTTAWA -- Canadian consumers could soon face higher prices on electronics such as TVs and iPods because it's going to be all but impossible for importers to exempt the products from a controversial tariff, a major electronics maker warns.

Importers are being asked to jump through too many hoops in order to qualify for a special exemption from the tariff on the popular products, said Mark Trylinski, logistics director at Sony of Canada.

Trylinski -- who predicted a price spike of about five per cent -- said companies may eventually decide the customs duties that are imposed on some items mean it no longer makes financial sense to import them.

The Canada Border Services Agency has ruled importers who use the special-tariff classification must get certificates from the end users -- consumers, in most cases -- that certify the product will be used with a computer.

The Customs Act states the verification certificates should be signed and show "the user's name, address and occupation and indicate the actual use made of the commercial goods."

The exemption has also been interpreted to apply only to devices in "continuous use" with computers, which means iPods and other MP3 players are unlikely to qualify.

 

Economic outlook bleak

OTTAWA -- A leading international forecasting firm says Canadians should brace for tough economic times lasting another two years, lifting the jobless rate once again beyond eight per cent and setting back Ottawa's plans to balance the budget.

In one of the gloomiest forecasts issued on the Canadian economy since the recession, Capital Economics predicts a sharp and protracted housing correction, in conjunction with muted business investment and government austerity, will keep Canada's economy in stall mode throughout 2013 with a one per cent growth rate, only improving slightly to 1.3 per cent in 2014.

That's half the current Bank of Canada estimate on both years, and well below the 1.6 per cent consensus used by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in the March budget for the current year.

"Canada's economy has lost considerable momentum and signs unfortunately point to continued slow growth ahead," says the new outlook.

"With the housing downturn intensifying, business investment intentions softening and government plans to restrain spending, we expect GDP (gross domestic product) growth of only one per cent in 2013 and 1.3 per cent in 2014."

In an interview, the firm's chief Canadian economist, David Madani, agreed his view is darker than most, but noted the consensus -- the average of forecasts -- has been steadily dropping for months and coming closer to his position.

And recent indicators all point to weak growth, he added. Job creation for the first three months of the year has been non-existent. In fact, there has been a net loss of about 26,000 jobs, while exports remain weak.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2013 B6

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