Canada to eliminate tariffs on more goods: Flaherty

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Sunday the government would eliminate tariffs on dozens more products used by Canadian manufacturers, aiming to lower their costs and encourage more hiring.

The initiative would scrap custom duties on 70 items used by businesses in sectors such as food processing, furniture and transportation equipment.

Flaherty, who estimated the tariff cuts would save Canadian businesses C$32 million ($30.5 million) a year, said the cuts were part of the Conservative government’s overall free trade policy.

“We believe in free trade in Canada,” Flaherty said on CTV’s “Question Period” program. “Some of these old-fashioned tariffs get in the way. So we’re getting rid of them.”

As part of its Economic Action Plan to pull Canada through the global slowdown of 2008-09, the government has eliminated more than 1,800 tariff items, providing about C$435 million a year in tariff relief. Its stated goal is to make Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers by 2015.

The tariff move comes as Canada and the European Union negotiate a deal to knock down trade barriers on goods and services and boost two-way trade by 20 percent.

Flaherty also used the CTV interview to say he was about to begin pre-budget consultations in preparation for a federal spending and tax package to be presented in early 2012.

Reporting by Frank McGurty; Editing by Dale Hudson