BUSINESS TRAVELER TIPS: HOW TO START EXPORTING TO CANADA

The free trade regime between Ukraine and Canada has been in operation for over a year and has already attracted Canadian buyers to Ukrainian goods. In turn, this heightens the interest of Ukrainian suppliers in the Canadian markets.

The Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support Project (CUTIS) conducted a two-week training program “How to Export to Canada” for representatives of the regional chambers of commerce and trainers from the leading business schools. The program included a more theoretical Ukrainian part in Kyiv and a Canadian one in Toronto and Ottawa. During the latter, program participants had an opportunity to communicate with Canadian government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations responsible for various aspects of Canadian export of goods.

Dmytro Shvets, Director of Start Global, a lecturer at Kyiv-Mohyla Business School, shared with Mind the interesting insights he had received during the course.

Country Profile. Canada is a North American country with the area of 9.9 million square kilometres (16 times larger than Ukraine) and the population of just over 36 million. It is a federation of 10 provinces and three territories, each having unique “tastes” in the issues of import, customs, taxes, legislative regulation, etc. For example, to register a company in Canada, you need a local director, but not in British Columbia.

61% of Canada’s total population lives in two provinces: Ontario and Quebec. Canadians prefer to live in cities, of which the largest is Toronto.

In a multicultural and multilingual country (there are two official languages – English and French – at the federal level), a large number of different nations retain their culture and traditions. In recent years, the flow of immigrants from Asia to Canada has increased. This makes it necessary to take into account when positioning a product and negotiating it that your client may have the habits and traditions not inherent in North America.

Indigenous people (First nations) account for almost 5% of the total population – about 1.7 million people. Interestingly, the average age of the indigenous part is 32 years old (ten years younger than the rest of the population). But in general, Canadians are an aging nation: it is expected that a quarter of the country’s population will be over 65 years old in 2031. This should also be taken into account when determining the target clientele for your products when preparing for their export.

Who do Canadians trade with? Canada imports goods and services from most countries of the globe. It is one of top ten trade leaders and accounts for 2.2% of world imports. Mostly, it imports from the USA, China, Mexico and Germany, and exports to the above countries, as well as the UK and Japan.

Canada is one of the world’s leading importers, and this is a good reason for the most responsible attitude and high requirements for everything coming from outside. Canadian importers are responsible to the State for the quality of products and will require the same from the supplying exporters.

What are the requirements for foreign goods? It is prohibited to import products to Canada that could harm human health or life. Such goods are either destroyed or sent back at the expense of the supplier. Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been created, among other things, for checking imported food products; more than 7,000 of its employees are concerned to reject the products that do not meet the standards.

Almost everything you need to know about standards and requirements for food and medicine can be found on the Ask CFIA web resource.

Another useful tool is AIRS CFIA: Here you can easily find out about the requirements for different products.

Standardization of goods and Canadian customs is a complex but well-balanced mechanism with the components working in concert and complementing each other. Almost all authorities and agencies have comprehensive information on their websites and patiently answer telephone requests.

Canadian import/export information is freely available. In particular, the CBSA website has a Step By Step Guide, which describes the process of import to the country in detail. At the same site, you can get a list of products and requirements (including goods that are not allowed to be imported).

Keep in mind that the goods to be imported can be delayed indefinitely until clarification (at the expense of the importer), so this should be taken into account in planning your time and budget. In addition, when determining the origin of goods, the cost and origin of the materials from which it is made are taken into account.

The logistics component of export to Canada should not be a problem provided careful preparation – the customs clearance of goods in the country of maple leaf is simplified and can be carried out remotely. You will be able to calculate the shipping rates at the website searates.com.

How to sell? With regard to Canadian sales channels, it is worth considering a few issues. One of the most interesting channels can be Public Services and Procurement Canada, which annually makes purchases for $18 billion Canadian dollars including a large number of imported items. At the web-portal buyassell.gc.ca, you can get registered for participation in the public tenter, and if you have questions, you may call +18008111148 and, as we are assured, get a detailed answer to the relevant questions. Civil servants feel morally obliged to respond the questions of interested exporters. It would be wise to use this.

In Canada, industry associations that advise trade missions are also very professional and help their members in international affairs. Contacts of those associations can be found on the Canadian Chamber of Commerce website.

Another interesting organization that deals with the development of trade relations with countries such as Ukraine is TFO Canada. You can find many tips on exports to Canada and register your company in the directory at its web page in order to promote your product among buyers.

Canada has one of the largest Ukrainian diasporas in the world – 1.3 million people. Although it is unlikely that it can be used as a sales channel, a significant number of Ukrainian-born specialists can be found in almost every sector of the country. These acquaintances would be good to use to get alternative contacts for industry and market information.

An additional channel for promotion in Canada can be annual festivals of Ukrainian culture.

Legal features of export to Canada. Special attention should be paid to legal aspects. For example, there is a case-law applied in many cases that takes into account the large number of cases for the century. At the same time, lawyers are highly specialized – both in the branches of law and geographically (in specific provinces).

Another very important issue is the protection of intellectual property. Canada has a large number of lawyers specializing in lawsuits against brands that violate someone’s intellectual property rights. Therefore, it is worth thoroughly checking the names of your brands before going to the country’s markets.

In general, Canadians are quite conservative. All serious statements should be made with reference to a reliable source. However, this also has a significant positive effect: they are all inclined to comply strictly with established rules and arrangements. There is a culture of follow-ups and taking notes of the meeting.

How can Canada perceive all Ukrainian? Unlike southern neighbours, almost everyone in Canada knows about Ukraine. The image of the country is improving, although not very fast. Ukrainian goods are sold mainly in supermarket chains specializing in Eastern European products.

The Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and Canada (CUFTA), which is in force since August 1, 2017, has opened up 98% of its goods market to Ukrainian exporters. In general, CUFTA is expected to support Ukrainian companies in entering new markets and strengthen trade relations between the two countries.

Thus, despite all the regulations, rules and standards, with proper preparation Canadian market may be of interest to Ukrainian companies that build a long-term strategy of international expansion. After all, as you have set your product or service in Canada and adapted the brand to local ethnic groups, markets in many countries, including the neighbouring US, will become easier for further advancement.

Information contained in this publication will partly be included into Global Market Access Strategy course, which will be held at kmbs on November 26, 2018.