New markets opening up to Canadian businesses

Many Saskatchewan businesses have a chance to expand their opportunities by exporting to new markets; they just don’t know how to do it.

“The U.S. will always be our No. 1 trading partner, but the growth opportunities are beyond North America,” said Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade.

Fast, who was in Saskatoon recently and is currently leading a five-day trade mission to South Korea, said there is lack of awareness among small and mediumsized businesses of the tools that federal and other levels of government can provide to help them succeed in exporting.

Many also lack awareness of the opportunities that have opened up to them because of recent free trade agreements such as the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA), which came into effect on Jan. 1 and makes almost 90 per cent of Canada’s current exports to South Korea dutyfree, Fast said.

More than 100 Canadian delegates, including provincial entities such as the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP), Farmers of North America, International Road Dynamics and Prairie Berries, are on the mission.

Fast said multiple Saskatchewan business sectors will benefit from the CKFTA.

A major area is agriculture and agri-food.

“(For example) I believe the tariff on pulses was over 600 per cent and … now those tariffs have been eliminated,” he said.

“There is also advanced machinery manufacturers – in the farm industry – with opportunities now to open up a market in Korea.”

Service sectors such as engineering and environmental services, along with resources, will also benefit, he said.

“Canadian companies that heretofore have been essentially shut out of the Korean marketplace now see an opportunity to open up a market of 50 million consumers.”

Delegates on the mission will meet with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, Canada’s export agencies and with Korean businesses that could become partners.

“We want to make sure Canadian companies get off to a running start in taking advantage of this trade agreement,” Fast said, adding businesses can use Korea as a gateway to other Asian markets.

Go Global Fast was recently in Saskatoon to take part in a Go Global conference put on by the federal government and the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.

The conference was designed to give businesses the tools, information and support they need to take advantage of new trade opportunities around the world.

Of the more than 1.1 million small and mediumsized Canadian businesses, only 41,000 export their products or services. Of those 41,000 exporters, only 11,000 export beyond North America.

“Many have the capacity to export, but do not,” Fast said, adding many firms don’t know how many resources are available to help them.

“Canadians are immensely cautious,” he said. “We are risk averse.

“But it doesn’t have to be intimidating, because we have people on the ground.”

About one thousand trading professionals around the world can help businesses in exporting their products and services.