There is a breadth of publicly available information out there on exporting. Many government and trade organizations offer guides that can help you map out your exporting goals and strategies, along with helpful advice from industry professionals and diplomatic channels.
Specific advice and information on particular markets can be found at Global Affairs Canada (The Trade Commissioners Service) or Export Development Canada. These services provide comprehensive guides on doing business in certain countries, although their catalogues are not exhaustive and tend to focus on the countries most popular with Canadian exporters.
If TCS and EDC don’t have any information on the market you’re interested in, most countries have trade-focused governmental organizations which are tasked with providing exporters with the information they need to start doing business there.
Of particular importance, foreign governmental trade organizations will provide official regulatory guidelines. It is crucial that you get this information straight from the source, as it tends to change regularly. Also, be sure to clear up any regulatory issues or questions you have with a trade rep from the country you want to export into (or a Canadian Trade Commissioner) before you start seeking out business.
Chambers of Commerce
Beyond national trade organizations, local chambers of commerce (CoC) in cities and regions can be of help. CoCs both here in Canada and in the country you’re interested in exporting to can provide helpful information on the necessary steps to sell into that market, and provide general information and advice as well. Some of this information is available online, more details will require a phone call or other correspondence.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has a comprehensive list of every local member chamber across the country on its website. The directory is vast, so depending on where you live, you should be able to find a CoC in close proximity to your town or city.
Both the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and your local chamber are incredibly valuable resources. They can provide you with exporting insights, helpful advice and strategies, and connect you with potential partners and customers, both here at home and in your target market. Your local chamber also has a distinct advantage over federal organizations, in that it will understand the unique needs of businesses in your community and what it takes to facilitate the growth of those businesses.
The Government of Ontario offers free and inexpensive courses on export fundamentals, exporting to the U.S. and other world markets, and sector-specific strategies. Courses are held at locations throughout the province, and some are available online.
Ontario’s provincial government also offers an exhaustive reference guide that breaks down the services it offers exporters, and provides a plethora of links to third party resources: information on international markets; regulations, law and intellectual property; export training and education, financing, and market entry and business leads.
World Trade Centre Programs
Trade Accelerator Program
The Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) is a six-week export education workshop that helps SMEs scale up their international business footprint and develop an export business plan to achieve their exporting goals.
TAP Canada is run by members of the World Trade Centre Association. The program started in Toronto, through World Trade Centre Toronto, the trade services arm of the Toronto Region Board of Trade. However, as of 2017 the program has expanded to Winnipeg, through World Trade Centre Winnipeg, and to Vancouver, through World Trade Centre Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
RBC is a founding partner of TAP and actively recruits its clients to the program. If RBC handles your firm’s commercial banking, ask about TAP.
The program is designed for firms that are already exporting a product, but have designs on new export markets and opportunities. The goal is to transform an exporting ambition, such as penetrating a new market, into a reality by formulating an export business plan.
TAP brings in sponsors from across the international business landscape, firms, non-profit and government organizations which deal with every aspect of exporting: finances, tax, legal issues, logistics and partner matchmaking just to name a few. These sponsors put on presentations, field questions and provide advice, and most importantly, provide one on one direction when participants are crafting their business plans.
If participants can commit the time, resources and attention of senior leadership, they can graduate the program with an export business plan, a tool that can not only help guide them in achieving their exporting goal but help them secure financing from financial institutions and crown corporations towards that goal.
Participant eligibility guidelines:
Market Accelerator Program
For firms that want to make in-roads in new markets, the World Trade Centre Toronto’s Market Accelerator Program (MAP) can help.
MAP hosts both outbound and inbound trade missions, facilitating trade between Toronto region businesses and firms from markets around the world.
MAP has brought Toronto exporters to China and Hong Kong, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, London, Barcelona, and New York City.
The program has also welcomed business leaders from across the world.
A schedule of upcoming events can be found on World Trade Centre Toronto’s website.
International Trade 101
If you have no exporting footprint, World Trade Centre Toronto also offers a program to introduce firms to exporting: International Trade 101.