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Trade talk with international business experts

CanadExport spoke with Trade Commissioners Clément Thiébault in Paris and Reuben East, Aliénor Fagette and Flavie Guerin in Brussels about how Canadian small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) can access the European Union (EU) market through the Canada‑EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the support of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). Their consolidated and edited responses are detailed below.

As Trade Commissioners in Europe, how does CETA help you support Canadian companies?

CETA is an additional tool for us to promote our companies in the European market. Trade commissioners can explain the EU regulatory framework and provide practical advice to Canadian companies to support accessing the EU market. With CETA, approximately 98 percent of tariff lines are reduced if not completely eliminated. If you have a company that sells goods, then there is a great chance that your business would benefit from the Agreement. Further, some of the provisions in CETA strongly support the export of services. It has fully opened many markets in Europe, so our SMEs have more access to more opportunities.

Which chapters in CETA benefit Canadian service exporters?

There are several services chapters under the Agreement that work together to ensure enhanced market access for Canadian companies. These include the temporary entry chapter for short‑term business visits, mutual recognition of professional qualifications and domestic regulation, cross-border trade in services, as well as some sector‑specific services‑related chapters.

Has CETA been a game changer for Canadian companies that want to provide services in the EU and, if so, how?

Companies that would previously sell goods now can include services. For example, consider that there might be a company that does land remediation that provides equipment, and also has the “know‑how” to operate it. Now they can provide training and service for the equipment.

Services can be provided in Canada as well as in Europe, so Canadian companies can provide services from their home base, especially in the digital sector in web, video game and other software development.

What does CETA mean for Canadian businesses when it comes to government procurement in the EU?

Procurement is a great benefit of CETA where Canadian businesses are able to bid on opportunities at all levels in a really massive market. The EU’s public procurement market is worth approximately $2.9 trillion per year — and there are 500,000 procurement notices published every year. EU public tenders can be complicated to navigate, which is where TCS support is paramount.

What are some new opportunities in the EU that may be of interest to Canadian companies?

The big thing in the EU, as anywhere else, is economic recovery.

Canada ranks fourth in the global cleantech innovation index and is well positioned to seize opportunities in Europe that will be driven by the European Green Deal. As part of the Green Deal, the EU renovation wave will create opportunities for sustainable and circular products, as well as digital solutions in the building sector. The EU Hydrogen Strategy will also boost the rapid development of renewable hydrogen. Canada is well positioned to meet this demand.

The digital sector is one of the sectors that suffered the least during the pandemic crisis. It's very robust and very strong in the EU. This sector is also still growing — 20 percent of the funds under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (the EU’s €750 billion economic recovery fund) will be allocated, via EU countries, to projects driving the digital transition. And the Digital Europe Programme, the first ever EU programme dedicated solely to digital transformation, has a planned budget of €7.5 billion from 2021 to 2027. The EU is the largest importer of digital services in the world and the market for digital technologies is predicted to grow to €2.2 trillion by 2030 — a 14.1 percent increase since 2017. It is clear that a large part of Europe's growth potential resides in digital markets, which means opportunities for Canadian providers of software and services. With ICT being one of our fastest‑growing economic sectors, Canada should be well positioned to benefit from these new opportunities.

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