Frequently Asked Questions – CanExport Associations
Understand how your Canadian industry association or trade organization can access up to $250,000 per year to conduct international business development activities. Find out how the funding works and which activities are eligible. This FAQ will help you determine if your organization is eligible and how to contact the program to confirm this.
On this page
How our funding works
When can organizations submit an application?
CanExport Associations typically has one call for applications each year.
Participants must complete approved activities within the same government fiscal year in which we approve the application. The Government of Canada's fiscal year begins April 1 and ends on March 31 of the following calendar year.
Who can apply?
We accept proposals from Canadian national trade organizations with member companies and a national mandate including:
- Canadian national industry or trade associations
- Canadian national bilateral chambers of commerce and business councils
- Canadian national horizontal / multi-sectoral trade organizations with a specific focussed mandate or theme:
- For example: Canadian national trade organizations representing companies majority owned by under-represented groups in trade (e.g. Indigenous, women, 2SLGBTQI+)
To be eligible, your organization must:
- be incorporated as a Canadian not-for-profit corporation, confirmed by articles of incorporation
- have sufficient private revenues to cover 50% of costs for proposed activities, confirmed by 2 years of financial statements of your Canadian applicant organization
- not sell products that are sold by your members
How important is it for my organization to have an international business development (IBD) strategy?
Although the submission of a minimum three-year international business development (IBD) strategy is not a mandatory requirement to be eligible to apply to the program, it's submission and review will be included as one of the key evaluation criteria for funding. CanExport Associations funding can be used to support the creation or update of a multi-year IBD strategy. Applicants without an IBD strategy can apply to produce one as a funded activity.
The IBD strategy requires forward thinking by the organization and past experience has shown that the best results are achieved with program funds when projects are part of a longer term strategy.
Are some national organizations ineligible?
Yes, ineligible organizations include:
- Organizations funded entirely by Canadian government (federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal governments or Crown corporations).
- Organizations that have access to other federal funding programs with similar objectives to CanExport Associations and that support the international business development efforts of a specific sector, such as:
- Agriculture and Agri-food Canada's AgriMarketing program
- Organizations that don't have a commercial export focussed mandate and/or do not represent member companies whose objective is the export of commercialized products and services. This includes organizations whose primary objective is related to investment attraction, innovation, start-up acceleration, research and development, pre-commercial activities and/or companies, domestic entrepreneurship and/or trade, international development, etc.
- Regional organizations (provincial, municipal, etc.).
Are there limits on funding requests?
Funding is provided on a cost-sharing basis between the recipient organization and CanExport Associations. The applicant may submit a maximum budget of $250,000; the minimum budget is set at $20,000.
CanExport Associations will reimburse up to 50% of eligible expenditures. The successful applicant's share of costs must be at least 50% and must come from private revenues (E.g. membership fees). We do not permit in-kind contributions.
Applicant organizations can receive up to $250,000 from CanExport Associations; $150,000 can be used to support travel expenses and event registrations by Canadian companies (maximum of one representative per company) in the applicant's industry.
Can an organization apply for CanExport Associations funding if it is already receiving funding from other sources?
The stacking limit of Total Canadian Government Funding for CanExport Associations eligible expenditures is 75%. Canadian government funding (i.e., public sources of funding) is defined as grants and contributions, capital stock or equity, subsidies, rebates, loans, provisions for potential losses on loan guarantees or loans, or investment tax credits received from Canadian government (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and Crown corporations). In other words, the combined contributions from CanExport Associations and other Canadian government organizations cannot represent more than 75% of an eligible expenditure (at the expense line item). In such cases where the total Canadian government funding would represent more than 75% of an eligible expenditure (at the expense line item), the recipient is expected to either reimburse the other Canadian government sources or make a reduced claim to CanExport Associations, so as to ensure that the stacking limit is not exceeded.
Activities eligible for funding
What is COVID-19's impact on CanExport Associations activities?
CanExport Associations supports several categories of non-travel activities to help prepare for international markets. We also encourage virtual participation in international trade events and meetings. Approval of funding for travel and activities that require being physically present in a foreign country, or a foreign participant being physically present in Canada, depends on the status of travel advisories when we assess your application. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that travel restrictions are lifted in Canada and in destination countries before submitting an application. We encourage you to make informed decisions to minimize risk and protect your health and the health of your employees. Please refer to Government of Canada travel advisories for the most recent information.
Please also note: Only travel expenses relating to travel consistent with Canada's official travel advisories in effect at the time of travel will be reimbursed. When seeking reimbursement, recipients may be asked to attest to this fact. These advisories can be found at www.travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
Ineligible expenditures include expenses for travel expenses for travel inconsistent with Canada's travel advisories or those of destination countries at the time of travel.
Which activities are eligible?
CanExport Associations supports activities that promote, facilitate, and enable Canadian industry's diversification and expansion of their commercial exports into new international markets. Activities in (or targeting) all countries are eligible, provided Canada has not imposed sanctions against a given country.
Approval of funding for travel and activities that require being physically present in a foreign country, or a foreign participant being physically present in Canada, depends on the status of Government of Canada travel advisories when we assess your application. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that travel restrictions are lifted in Canada and in destination countries before applying.
Proposed activities must benefit the organization's entire industry, the organization's members and non-members alike.
CanExport Associations supports non-travel activities:
- Export training support to industry (for example, training on intellectual property protection in foreign markets)
- Creating/updating a strategy for international business development or market diversification
- Gathering market intelligence (custom research, reports and studies)
- Translating, adapting or creating marketing tools and materials for an international target market
- Participating to virtual international trade shows, networking sessions, meetings or conferences
Based on Government of Canada Travel Advisories, CanExport Associations also supports:
- Visits to foreign markets
- Organizing international trade missions for SMEs in your industry
- Organizing an incoming delegation of foreign buyers to Canada
- In-person participation to international trade shows, networking sessions, meetings or conferences – as an exhibitor, or to advocate on behalf of your industry with foreign counterparts
For non-travel activities, which expenses are eligible?
To be eligible, non-travel expenses must promote international business development. They must also be directly related to the activities approved by CanExport Associations. These include:
- market information (E.g. purchasing market intelligence reports to develop market diversification plans or strategy)
- consultant fees (E.g. business consultants, market specialists or IBD specialists)
- professional services (E.g. writing, editing, graphic design, marketing, translation or interpretation)
- advertising (E.g. web site development targeting foreign customers, or targeted materials to promote trade opportunities for Canadian industry)
- printing, mailing and shipping fees
- renting rooms and equipment for meetings
For example: CanExport Associations funding supports capacity building of Canadian industry with general export training and/or thematic export training (for example, training on intellectual property protection in foreign markets). Applicants that get funding to give training to members and industry non-member companies may include expenses related to:
- room fees
- equipment fees
- production of training materials
For activities with travel, which expenses are eligible?
We encourage you to make informed decisions to minimize risk and protect your health and that of your employees. Please check Government of Canada travel advisories before finalizing a funding application that includes travel-dependent activities.
We provide funding for the following to help individuals take part in international business development activities:
- return economy airfare
- per diem
- ground transportation
- visa fees
- registration fees to attend trade shows and conferences
Travel expenses will be covered for:
- Applicant organizations, to visit foreign markets only. CanExport Associations will reimburse costs for a maximum of two representatives from the applicant organization (or a partner organization) per approved trip. Travel within Canada is ineligible.
- SMEs, to visit foreign markets only. Companies must be shepherded by the applicant organization as part of approved IBD activities. CanExport Associations can provide up to $150,000 (within the contribution maximum of $250,000) to the applicant for assistance to companies. Travel within Canada is ineligible.
- Foreign participants, to visit Canada as part of a program organized by the applicant organization. Every effort must be made to provide incoming visitors as broad exposure as possible to the applicant's industry.
To attend trade shows, networking functions, meetings or conferences, applicant organizations can claim additional event-related costs, such as:
- constructing a booth
- shipping promotional materials
- renting meeting rooms
- hiring an interpreter
Which expenses are ineligible?
The following expenses are not eligible for CanExport Associations funding:
- ongoing core activities and overhead expenses (i.e. fundamental operational activities)
- product development and production costs (including samples)
- capital costs, such as:
- office equipment
- office space
- office supplies
- business cards
- salaries and commissions (arm's length consultants that have a specific expertise may be eligible, subject to prior approval)
- honoraria for professional services
- maintenance and hosting fees for web sites
- activities related to lobbying, domestic policy development and influence
- legal fees
- registration fees for events organized by the applicant organization or its partners
- standalone booth spaces for individual companies at commercial events
- event sponsorship and membership fees
- entertainment and hospitality, including bar tabs
- expenses incurred by representatives of Canadian companies when they are not accompanied by representatives of the applicant organization
This is not a comprehensive list of ineligible expenses. If you are unsure about any of the examples listed above or the eligibility of your proposed expenses, please contact CanExport Associations (CanExportAssociations@International.gc.ca).
Can recipients be paid in advance of carrying out activities?
No, CanExport Associations does not make advance payments. Applicants must have sufficient cash flow to fund their proposed activities in their entirety, prior to re-imbursement.
How are applications assessed?
CanExport Associations is a competitive program. The evaluation process considers the merits of your overall application as well as the merits of each activity package included therein. Packages are groupings of related or complementary activities.
The adjudication board for CanExport Associations is made up of representatives from Global Affairs Canada and other government departments. Funding decisions are final.
To illustrate, the following were key evaluation criteria from past funding rounds.
- Global Affairs Canada priorities
How will proposed activities help Canadian companies diversify their exports to markets outside of the U.S. and take advantage of new trade agreements, such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)?
- Anticipated commercial results
Does the application clearly outline expected results? What will be measured, how will these be measured and which performance indicators will be used?
- Pursuing new or expanded initiatives ("Incrementality")
CanExport Associations does not provide funding for an organization's core operations or everyday activities. We will evaluate proposed activities to see if they represent new or expanded initiatives. How well does the application build on the organization's core or existing activities? How well does the application build on activities funded by CanExport Associations in past years?
- Benefits to Canadian business
Do proposed activities benefit and include the participation of Canadian industry and SMEs, in particular?
- Performance and Results for Past Years
Did the applicant use CanExport Associations funding effectively in the past? What were the results of their activities?
- International Business Development Strategy
How well do the proposed activities relate to the organization's IBD strategy? How effectively is the strategy linked to CanExport Associations' objectives and priorities?
- Global Affairs Canada priorities
Preparing an application
How do I submit an application?
Applications must be submitted via the CanExport Associations online system when the funding round is open.
New applicants - Once the funding round is open:
If your organization is a new applicant to the program, register your intent to submit an application once the funding round is open. You will be provided with access to the CanExport Associations online system after an initial assessment of eligibility for funding.
Prior applicants - Once the funding round is open:
If your organization has previously applied to the program, you will be able to access the application through your existing access to the CanExport Associations online system, once the funding round is open.
All applicants will be required to complete the Pre-Screening Eligibility Requirement Checklist when requesting to start a new online application. You will be prompted to complete the checklist once you select "Start a new application" in the CanExport Associations online system.
Can I receive feedback on a draft version of my application before submitting a final version?
We assess applications for the quality and pertinence of the information provided.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposed activities with CanExport Associations program officers. Regular communication will help identify early on:
- ineligible activities or expenses
- missing or incomplete sections
- expense estimates that appear high and may require further explanation
Program officers can also make recommendations on areas of the application that could be improved.
We encourage applicants to consult with sector-specific trade commissioners in the international markets that interest them. They can help identify market opportunities, barriers and trends that are relevant to your application. Use Find a trade commissioner to contact the trade commissioner responsible for your industry sector and markets of interest.
When will I know if my application is approved?
We typically notify applicants by email of results in mid-March.
Successful applicants will sign a contribution agreement with CanExport Associations on behalf of Global Affairs Canada. The agreement outlines approved activities and their expected costs, as well as the obligations and responsibilities of both parties. We will also give successful applicants a Recipient Handbook that explains how to submit claims for reimbursement and request modifications to the terms of a project.
Current funding recipients
My application (or a part of my application) was refused funding even if all proposed activities and expenses were eligible. Why is this?
CanExport Associations is a competitive program. Available funding is awarded to the strongest applicants for activities that will be most effective in achieving their international business development goals, taking into account an organization's resources and capacities. Funding decisions are final and non-negotiable.
Can recipients make changes to approved activities?
Yes, recipients of CanExport Associations funding can request modifications to their approved activities after signing their contribution agreement. For example: If an event is canceled, or if the Government of Canada advises against travel.
Note: All modifications excluding minor date changes will be subject to re-evaluation. Recipients cannot re-submit activities that were rejected as part of the original evaluation.
Will CanExport Associations recipients be audited?
CanExport Associations recipients may be subject to audit. If your organization is selected for audit, you will be notified well in advance. Audits are carried out by the Government of Canada or professional auditing firms on its behalf. You must maintain records of activities as well as receipts for all expenses related to your approved project for 5 years. If overpayment is identified in the audit, the overpaid amount must be reimbursed.
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