By Michelle Pucci
International Trade Minister Ed Fast held a workshop in Laval last week encouraging Canadian small business to expand their trade overseas.
“We have to help Canadian companies be successful,” said Fast. “It’s one thing to open up doors, but we need to get Canadian companies to walk through those doors.”
The Cabinet minister specifically pointed out Laval’s steel and metal makers, which he says are highly visible.
“They have tremendous plans to increase their export capacity and are looking for support from the federal government,” he said.
The Go Global workshops are part of a trade promotion campaign for small- and medium- sized businesses (SMEs) in Canada. Out of 1.1 million SMEs in Canada, only 41,000 trade outside of Canada and only 11,000 trade beyond North America.
About 160 people participated at Le Château Royal in Laval, making it the most attended event so far.
Fast was joined by Éric Tétrault, president of Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec and Peter Hall, vice-president and chief economist of Export Development Canada.
The workshop is part of the Global Markets Action Plan, an umbrella policy to promote trade and investment in international markets.
Canada has been aggressively pursuing free trade agreements with the European Union and investment treaties with countries like China, to open up markets beyond North America to small businesses here. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement came into effect this year.
These negotiations involve determining regulations such as tariffs, quality standards and policies that create a level playing field for all entrepreneurs.
Trade Commissioner Services across Canada and around the world provide free support to businesses. These services are supposed to explain the economic climate and potentially match Canadian companies with ones overseas to increase their prospects of success.
Export Development Canada provides financing and insurance support when companies export. The agency helps offset the risk and ensure 90 per cent of the contract amount such as political risk insurance if the political climate is unstable, according to Fast.
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