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Seven adaptations that helped Canadians do business abroad in 2020

The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) started the 2020 calendar year full of excitement and pride, ready to celebrate 125 years of helping Canadian businesses reach new customers in  international markets.

Woman with Canadian flag

Looking back on our role in Canada’s growth as a trading nation, we quickly found ourselves in one of the most historic years of the past century.

Since 1895, the TCS has helped Canada’s determined entrepreneurs build resilience through World Wars, recessions, and natural disasters. This year, we had to pivot and evolve once again to confront and mitigate the potential impacts of the COVID‑19 global pandemic on international trade.

There are 7 ways the TCS adapted to help Canadians do businesses abroad in 2020:

What is your New Year’s resolution? (as an entrepreneur or businessperson)

Now more than ever, the TCS is helping businesses gain the confidence they need to start or continue selling their products and services abroad, through our funding and support programs and our network of trade commissioners in over 160 cities worldwide.

If you’re ready to grow. We’re ready to help. Make the TCS part of your growth strategy and let us introduce your business to the world!

  1. Helped Canadians abroad to return home safely

    When COVID‑19 started to spread, we mobilized our trade commissioners on the ground in more than 160 cities worldwide to assist Canadians living and traveling abroad.

    Since our international offices are primarily located in Canadian diplomatic missions and embassies, we were in a good position to help Canadians find safe shelter and transportation back home.

  2. Opened supply chains for essential health products and services

    The virus quickly increased Canada’s need for access to reliable sources of supply of health products and services. Trade commissioners tapped into their local networks of business contacts to identify and connect qualified buyers and suppliers of COVID‑19 related solutions.

    Leveraging their preferential access to government authorities around the world, the TCS was able to help keep supply chains open for essential products and services.

  3. Created a centralized webpage for COVID‑19 and Canada’s international trade

    Operating in unprecedented times created unprecedented challenges for small and medium‑sized businesses. To keep companies informed, we created a centralized webpage with up‑to‑date information and resources on COVID‑19 and Canada’s international trade.

    We also provided access to reliable COVID‑19 related information for businesses in March and April through our accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Follow the TCS if you don’t already!

  4. Updated CanExport funding to include digital and virtual activities

    To help businesses, innovators, associations and communities grow in new international markets while operating in the ‘new normal’, we expanded our CanExport funding programs to provide tools to expand e‑commerce presence and explore markets virtually.

  5. Expanded e‑commerce resources to help companies operate virtually

    The pandemic highlighted to many entrepreneurs the advantages and opportunities of adjusting their business model through digital adoption and virtual service delivery. We developed a new e‑commerce webpage to help companies safely grow their business online to reach new customers in new countries.

  6. Organized virtual trade missions, events and programs

    As international businesses adapted to a virtual world, we continued to support Canadian companies at virtual trade events in Canada and abroad as well as through virtual trade missions to South Korea and the European Union.

    Our Canadian Technology Accelerators (CTA) have adapted and found innovative ways to expose companies to local business environments and make connections with investors and key contacts entirely remotely.

    Cleantech, life sciences and information & communication technology (ICT) companies have demonstrated even further interest in the CTA program and in seeking opportunities in global tech hubs. Interested companies can apply here.

  7. Created the Canadian COVID‑19 Capabilities Directory

    There is still a call for Canadian health‑related products and services that can help fight against COVID‑19 in global markets.

    The Canadian COVID‑19 Capabilities Directory showcases what Canada has to offer potential buyers around the world.

    Our extensive network of trade commissioners leverage this directory to match export‑ready Canadian firms with COVID‑19‑related international business opportunities.

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