Canada was a signatory to the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Agriculture which was concluded in December 1993. The Agreement obliged Canada to convert its existing agricultural quantitative import controls to a system of tariff rate quotas (TRQs). The TRQs came into effect in 1995.
Under these TRQs, imports are subject to low "within access commitment" rates of duty up to a predetermined limit (i.e. until the import access quantity has been reached), while imports over this limit are subject to significantly higher "over access commitment" rates of duty. For most products, the privilege to import at the within access commitment rates of duty is allocated to firms through the issuance of import allocations (or "quota-shares"). Those with quota-shares will, upon application, receive specific import permits giving access to the within access commitment rates of duty as long as they meet the terms and conditions of permit issuance. These conditions are normally described in Allocation Methods Order. Imports in excess of access levels are permitted by citing General Import Permit No. 100 - Eligible Agricultural Goods, which allows unrestricted imports at the higher rate of duty. Canada will continue to respect its access level commitments under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
All TRQs are based on Customs Tariff item numbers. Therefore, as the TRQs came into effect in 1995, the Import Control List (ICL) was amended by replacing references to named products (e.g. "turkey and turkey products") with tariff item numbers. However, for ease of understanding, the former product description will continue to be used.