By Roger Pierce, Small Business Expert
The Government of Canada wants your business to export products or services, and there are plenty of organizations, resources and programs available to help your company expand internationally. Exporting is good for the nation and good for your business.
We are a nation that prides itself on exporting. As a country with a relatively small population, a business may find domestic demand to be limiting and choose to pursue business in markets beyond Canada. Many small businesses in fact don’t sell at all to Canadian buyers, instead targeting much larger (and easily accessible) market opportunities available in nearby countries such as the United States.
Naturally, our government wants to see Canadian businesses succeed, so it allocates considerable energies and funds to launch, develop, administer and promote various programs, resources and services to assist you to export your products or services. Whatever type of exporting assistance you may seek, chances are there is a resource available to you.
Below are some of the more popular Canadian resources available to research new markets and to finance your business as it goes global.
Market and Trade Information
Want to know the value of Canada’s exports of wristwatch cases last year? Industry Canada’s Trade Data Online can tell you. (It’s almost $1.5 million.) This robust export database search engine also provides a history of global export totals (for example, the export of wristwatch cases has grown every year for the past five years) and a country-by-country breakdown of who’s buying Canadian products (Canada’s watch case exports to Japan grew a staggering 691% from 2011 to 2012). This data offers a wealth of insights for exports in nearly every sector and allows you to identify foreign markets that are already importing your product.
If you’d prefer a primer on foreign business environments rather than sifting through raw trade data, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service offers free market reports to companies researching international trade. These reports provide in-depth analyses of an industry’s current performance around the globe as well as future challenges and opportunities on a regional basis.
Canada Trade Missions
Trade missions are all about showcasing domestic businesses abroad. Organized by industry and region – like the November 2012 mission that brought companies in the infrastructure sector to Peru, Colombia and Panama – Canada Trade Missions are intended to introduce Canadian companies to potential partners, customers and investment opportunities in foreign markets. A minister or senior government official typically joins each trade mission to increase the profile of the visit and to facilitate additional networking opportunities. There is a cost involved in participating in a trade mission and it varies based on the destination and the number of attendees from each company.
Canada’s federal and provincial governments support small business exports by offering a number of grant and financing options. Export Development Canada (EDC) has compiled a list of government financing programs that are designed to support growth into foreign markets. While some of these programs apply only to specific industries, many are available to businesses in all sectors of Canadian exports.
One example of a government-offered financial program is the Business Development Bank of Canada’s Market Xpansion Loans, which lends companies up to $100,000 to develop export plans, participate in travel to drum up foreign prospects, and purchase additional inventory for export. The loan terms are also flexible to accommodate a variety of business needs.
Take advantage of the many government resources available to help your business grow internationally. The information, contacts and funding they provide could help accelerate your entry into new markets and open up new business opportunities abroad.