The World Trade Centre Trade Accelerator Program Canada (TAP) launched in Toronto in 2015 and since then, it has helped more than 200 companies become export ready and this year was no different.

“Tap helps importers and exporters put together a strategic business plan for their export markets…. We take companies through this process, which last for almost two months, where they get a combination of in-class training through presentations and workshops,” said Derek Earl, World Trade Centre Winnipeg vice-president.

Earl said the feedback he’s received from the program has been very positive. TAP participants are able to enter new markets and average 68% growth in international sales one year after participation.

Yet, the current trade environment for exporters and importers to Canada’s largest trading partner is growing more tense as the United States moves into a protectionist model of trade. Earl said that while it has become harder to do business in the U.S., the perception that it’s easier – due to proximity and similar language and culture – is still very strong.

“Companies just can’t take it for granted that they’ll have easy access to the U.S. market, for example, where they may have done so in the past…

“That may be the right option for some companies, but with TAP we’re really encouraging companies to look at markets beyond the United States – to diversify where they can find opportunities. This way we’re able to give them all the structure and support to put together a plan for that market,” said Earl

Earl said more Canadian companies are interested in trading with the European Union and how they can use the CETA to do so.

“My impression is that the attitude is pretty positive…but there is still the reality that the market is further and it’s a little bit more complex.”

This year, Frontier Supply Chain Solutions was a presenter at TAP. President and CEO Michael Butterfield presented on shipping to international markets.

“Shipping to international markets is growing exponentially,” said Butterfield. “In order to ship to those markets you have to have brokers and trade consultants who can guide you through it. As well, a strong and dependable logistics network.”

Butterfield discussed with attendees the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and de minimis values; how to ship under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); incoterms; and consolidation of shipments.

Canada currently has 13 free trade agreements with countries around the world.

When it comes to China, Earl said China holds a lot of interest for Manitoba companies because of the size of the market, the country’s spending power, and the rise of the middle class.

“It is a challenging market but it’s one that’s going to be well suited to many things that we produce here in Manitoba, like on the food side for example.”

The next TAP event will be held in February.

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