The Tribunal began operations on December 31, 1988, as the result of a merger of the Tariff Board, the Canadian Import Tribunal, and the Textile and Clothing Board.

The Tribunal can trace its history as far back as 1931 when the Tariff Board was established to inquire into economic matters referred to it by the Minister of Finance. In the 1950s, the Tariff Board took over responsibility for hearing customs and excise appeals from the Board of Customs, which had existed since Confederation. The Tribunal continues this legacy.

The Canadian Import Tribunal was originally established in 1969 as the Anti-dumping Tribunal. Its name change reflected a broader mandate to conduct injury inquiries in both anti-dumping and countervailing duty proceedings under the Special Import Measures Act, as well as in safeguard cases. The Textile and Clothing Board, formed in the early 1970s, inquired into safeguard complaints by the Canadian textile and apparel industries.

On January 1, 1994, the Procurement Review Board merged with the Tribunal, extending the Tribunal's mandate to include inquiries into whether federal procurement processes have been carried out in accordance with Canada's domestic and international trade obligations.

The Tribunal celebrated it's 25th anniversary on December 31, 2013.

Today, the Tribunal is at the heart of Canada's trade remedy system and, in any given year, the impact of its decisions can exceed $5 billion and lead to the creation and retention of thousands of jobs in Canada.