Expand your business globally with Team Canada Trade Missions
Canadian trade missions have a long and successful history of helping businesses access opportunities in countries around the world. The Trade Commissioner Service has been organizing trade missions for Canadian businesses in one form or another since the 1990s. The earliest ones — including the first one, which took place in China in 1994 — were large prime minister‑led trade missions that promoted Canada and its capabilities abroad, and that also included provincial and territorial premiers.
Similarly, today's Team Canada Trade Missions take a Canada‑wide approach that aims to showcase the broad range of Canadian capabilities and competitiveness with a strong coast‑to‑coast‑to‑coast delegation of businesses, partners and stakeholders.
How will my business benefit from a Team Canada Trade Mission?
TCTMs open doors for Canadian businesses, especially small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs). They provide a low‑risk and/or low‑cost market‑entry vehicle for participating SMEs, and a range of other unique opportunities and benefits, such as:
- Access to economic and government decision‑makers
- The opportunity to learn about doing business in the host market and gain exposure to the business culture and etiquette there
- Visibility, profile and increased credibility with existing and prospective customers or partners in the foreign market
- On‑the‑ground support from the Trade Commissioner Service and partner organizations, including Export Development Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corporation
- Unparalleled networking opportunities with the local business community
- Business meetings with potential buyers and partners
- Foreign market intelligence and troubleshooting
- Opportunities to create export partnerships, as well as to network with other participating Canadian exporters, share experiences and best practices, and find synergies
Why are Team Canada Trade Missions important in the way they help businesses export?
TCTMs facilitate the development of deep trade links between Canada and other countries. They're an important instrument for international business development that can be strategically used for:
- Advancing Canada's priority commercial objectives, as well as advocating for and promoting Canadian strengths and capabilities
- Fostering economic growth and job creation in Canada
- Building a resilient supply chain
- Supporting inclusive trade strategies
- Engaging with key government counterparts and resolving commercial, market‑access and/or political issues
- Advancing ongoing negotiations toward the signing of business deals
- Promoting and helping Canadian businesses benefit from Canada’s free trade agreements — namely, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans‑Pacific Partnership and the Canada–Korea Free Trade Agreement
What’s a typical agenda for a trade mission?
Trade missions generally take place over a one‑week period and involve an average of 1.5 to 2 days in each city, giving participants the chance to immerse themselves in the local business environment.
The structured program may include:
- Networking opportunities with the minister
- High‑level networking receptions with local business leaders
- On‑site business briefings by Trade Commissioners, senior officials and key local industry players
- Market overviews
- Presentation on applicable free trade agreements in the market
- Business meetings and/or round tables with local industry representatives and experts
- Site visits
While there's no fee to participate in a trade mission, participants are responsible for covering all of their related travel costs, including airfare, accommodations, ground transportation and meals not included in the program.
How does the Trade Commissioner Service help businesses before, during and after a trade mission?
Trade Commissioners help Canadian businesses at every step of a trade mission.
Before: Trade Commissioners work closely with a service provider or partner to contact the participating business delegates to learn more about their product and/or service, as well as their specific commercial objectives within the local market.
With this valuable insight, Trade Commissioners are able to tailor business‑to‑business meetings and programming, ensuring they're aligned with the participating business's unique needs. As Canadian businesses venture into foreign markets, it's important that they also conduct thorough research and engage in preparatory work to fully take advantage of the opportunities available in the local market.
That includes taking part in a preparatory webinar, hosted by the Trade Commissioner Service, before they arrive in the destination country. This webinar:
- Aims to ensure that participants are aware of cultural business practices
- Provides an overview of the program
- Goes over key logistical information
The goal is to ensure that delegates can maximize their time and potential on the ground.
During: Throughout the trade mission, Trade Commissioners on the ground proactively facilitate valuable connections for company representatives during networking events, leveraging their extensive networks to forge mutually beneficial relationships. They also ensure business‑to‑business meetings run smoothly and achieve successful results for delegates.
In addition to business‑to‑business meetings, Trade Commissioners organize:
- Business briefings, which provide an overview of the market; important logistical details; and introductions to key Government of Canada partners, Canada’s head of mission and members of the Trade Commissioner Service Team. Business briefings may also include a free trade agreement session (if applicable), as well sector‑specific briefings that include speakers from the Trade Commissioner Service and invited guests from the local market.
- Site visits, which give Canadian businesses a first-hand look at potential uses or applications for their products, services or solutions in the market.
- Networking events, which offer Canadian businesses the opportunity to meet the minister, as well as access to key international decision makers and senior government officials.
After: After the trade mission, Trade Commissioners continue their engagement with delegates, following up to assess any achievements or milestones reached. Trade missions are not a one‑stop event but rather one tool among others to achieve success in an international market. Many businesses take months or even years to build relationships and secure deals, and participation in a trade mission is one element on this continuum. Trade Commissioners are readily available to provide guidance and support, assisting companies in their export journey.
Want to know more? Visit our Trade missions and events page to stay up to date on upcoming initiatives, including future TCTMS.
Video: Why participate in a trade mission?
Ready to take your business to the world? Learn how businesses like yours can benefit from taking part in a trade mission organized by the Trade Commissioner Service. Visit our YouTube channel for more videos.
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