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Tools of the Trade: Members of Canada’s trade team are your partners in the export journey

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) works to seamlessly connect Canadian businesses with a wide range of programs and services that can open the door to foreign sales. This means that exporters find no wrong door to the federal and provincial services they require, ensuring they get the right help at the right time.

A number of partner agencies offer exporting resources for a wide range of companies, from small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to make their first sales outside of Canada to seasoned exporters that want to take their efforts up a notch.

Bill Macheras, a Trade Commissioner and Manager of the Info Centre in the TCS’s Ontario regional office, notes that most provinces have small‑business offices that can assist companies that are just starting their export journey. Another good resource at the early exporting stage is the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP), which offers a series of online and in-person workshop sessions with trade and industry experts. Operated by the World Trade Centre of Toronto in partnership with Export Development Canada (EDC), TAP sessions are available country‑wide, helping Canadian business leaders learn to overcome export barriers and reach new markets faster.

EDC, Canada’s export credit agency, also helps Canadian companies navigate, manage and take on risk, enabling them to grow and succeed in global markets regardless if you’re a seasoned exporter or looking to export for the first time. EDC supports firms of all sizes, industries and sectors, from SMEs with traditional product and service exports to companies selling into global supply chains.

EDC’s services focus on five pillars: financial solutions, education, connections, awareness and community. It helps companies get access to capital, offers protection so exporters can lower their risk and confidently expand beyond Canada’s borders, and provides expertise that enables businesses to make informed decisions about international markets.

Bill Macheras
Bill Macheras, Trade Commissioner and Manager of the Info Centre in the TCS’s Ontario regional office

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, offers a host of advisory services and financing for SMEs looking to grow, including into international markets. BDC provides access to working capital, for instance companies can supplement their cash flow with an online loan of up to $100,000 that comes with affordable rates and flexible terms.

BDC offers free resources such as articles, videos, webinars and other tools for Canadian entrepreneurs on a variety of business topics. It has a range of programs tailored for high‑level growth in areas such as leadership and management, business strategy, sales and marketing, technology, e‑commerce, financial management, operational efficiency and human resources.

The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) is the only Government of Canada contracting agency with the expertise and experience to help Canadians succeed in selling to foreign governments. Its two signature solutions are the U.S. DoD Prime Contractor, a free government program that enables Canadian businesses to gain privileged access to world’s largest buyer — the United States Department of Defense, and the International Prime Contractor, a fee‑for‑service program that enables Canadian businesses to pursue and win contracts with governments around the world. If you have products or services targeted at government buyers, get in touch with the CCC.

Another good learning resource for would‑be exporters is the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT), a not‑for‑profit organization dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. FITT provides classroom as well as online training modules on topics from selecting a market-entry strategy to developing international contracts and partnership agreements.

Macheras, a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP®|FIBP®), says such specialized courses can especially be helpful to company staff who are dedicated to international expansion.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) works to increase Canada’s share of global trade and build a fair, efficient and competitive marketplace. ISED offers assistance to exporters such as its Accelerated Growth Service, which helps growth‑oriented Canadian businesses gain access to the key government services they need such as financing, exporting, innovation and business advice.

Macheras says that an often‑overlooked source of foreign business intelligence is Canadian universities with international MBA programs. Students in such programs can help with researching particular markets, and many even come from countries in Asia, Europe or South America where firms might be looking to sell products or services.

“That’s an amazing resource for Canadian exporters,” Macheras comments, noting that such students typically speak the language and know the business culture in the target market. Canadian companies even end up bringing such students on board when they graduate to help them expand their business globally.

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