March 22, 2013 1:41PM

If the Canadians Can Handle Free Trade in Hockey Equipment…

…then can’t everyone else adopt a little free trade of their own? This is from the NY Times:

Take a walk down an aisle at Pro Hockey Life, an emporium of the Canadian national sport here on the capital’s southern fringe, and a customer comes away with a decidedly non‐​Canadian feel. Almost every pad, mask, stick and skate is made elsewhere — mostly in Asia, often by foreign‐​owned manufacturers. Just about the only thing Canadian about buying hockey equipment in Canada has for years been the tariff on imported goods. Now, even that quirk of Canadian hockey history is going away. On Thursday, the finance minister, Jim Flaherty, announced that the Conservative government would end import tariffs on all sports equipment, except bicycles, on April 1. The tariffs were as high as 18 percent.

It may be just a small step (glide?), but it’s good news for free trade nonetheless. So what prompted the change?

The government’s decision to eliminate tariffs that were protecting a largely nonexistent industry seems to have more to do with online shopping and the rise of the Canadian dollar to parity with its American counterpart. For example, many of the skates at Pro Hockey Life priced from $500 to $700, a surprisingly large category, are available from American online retailers at prices that are at least $100 lower because of low tariffs in the United States.

I was a big fan of online shopping anyway. If it can help get rid of tariffs, even better!