Leveraging the Canada Brand

The international community is fond of Canada and the stuff we make. Exporters can take advantage

“We need to make it clear to exporters and to potential exporters that the world is thirsting for their products,” said Ailish Campbell, Canada’s chief trade commissioner. PHOTO: Pixabay

TORONTO—Selling internationally is tough. Even in familiar markets like the U.S., competition is fierce. Not only are you competing against local businesses, but other international competitors as well, from Canada and elsewhere.

You need to make use of every advantage, and to this extent, the Canada Brand is a powerful asset.

We as a nation have a very positive reputation abroad: as polite, open and hardworking people.

“If you have a problem with Canada, you have a problem,” said Ailish Campbell, Canada’s chief trade commissioner, referring to the congenial relationships Canadian traders foster with our closest trading partners, like the United States.

“In a very complex world, I think most Americans intuitively know that Canadians are excellent business partners,” Campbell said.

This is a sentiment generally shared around the world, and when it comes to our products, we are renowned for quality, safety and reliability.

In many emerging markets the quality and safety of domestically manufactured products is a concern, particularly with things that you put on or in your body. Fortunately, Canada has high standards in these sectors.

“It’s less about I love Canada and more about I trust Canada,” said John Caplan, CEO of e-commerce platform OpenSky, speaking about Chinese consumers.

In China in particular, a market where counterfeiting and quality control are big problems, demand for authentic, safe and healthy food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics is high.  Canada can help fill this void.

“Trust is a problem in China’s food supply chain,” said Peter Hall, Export Development Canada’s chief economist in a YouTube presentation. “But if product is coming from some place abroad where food governance is better, like Canada, the interest goes way up.”

This interest is translating to greatly accelerated growth in our food exports to China, and across the world as well.

Canada is the sixth largest agricultural exporter in the world, and food processing is the largest manufacturing sector in the country by employment.

Trade Commissioner Campbell says many of these edible goods are punching above their weight in the global arena, thanks in part to Canada’s sterling reputation. She asserts that it pays to have the Canadian label front and centre on food products.

While the Canada Brand is a valuable asset when selling ingestible goods, it provides an edge for other products where safety is a chief concern.

In Europe, Canadian wood products like baby furniture are regarded as well-treated, safe and high quality, as are toys, household goods, building materials and other home furnishings.

According to Campbell, it’s not just safety that attracts international consumers to our goods.

“Canadian products have a fantastic environmental track record,” she said.

Like any nation, we have our public relations issues on this front, such as environmental degradation in the Alberta oil sands and pollution associated with domestic and foreign mining activities, but the general perception abroad is that we are responsible stewards of the environment and our products are clean and green.

The notion that we take care of our natural treasures garners trust, both in Canadian companies and Canadian products.

The bottom line—the world wants more Canada.

As Campbell puts it, “We need to make it clear to exporters and to potential exporters that the world is thirsting for their products.”

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