Olga Vergeles: CUTIS will help Ukrainian businesses to enter Canadian market

One of the key aspects of economic development of Ukrainian regions is building the export capacities of local producers and attracting direct foreign investments.

Being geographically distant from Ukraine, Canada has strong historical ties with it and similar values. To affirm such affinity Canada has been consistently promoting reforms in Ukraine. The Canada-Ukraine Trade Investment Support (CUTIS) project offers support in the sphere of export and attraction of investments.

CUTIS is a five-year (2016-2021) initiative of the Canadian government aimed to reduce poverty in Ukraine by expanding exports from Ukraine to Canada and investments from Canada into Ukraine. The projects was launched in February 2016 and has been implemented by the Conference Board of Canada in cooperation with the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce.

The project aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises across all regions of Ukraine by partnering with chambers of commerce and industry, business associations as well as the Government and reform project offices. A special focus of the project is cooperation with women-run enterprises. Also, the project is oriented at developing environmentally friendly businesses in Ukraine.

The key partners of CUTIS are the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine represented by Ukraine’s Trade Representative Nataliya Mykolska and her team, the Export Promotion Office headed by Maryana Kahanyak, and the newly created Investment Promotion Office headed by Daniel Bilak.

The project concentrates its activities on the following key areas.

First, awareness raising and business networking. The starting point for practical implementation of the project was the Canada-Ukraine Business Forum hosted in Toronto in June 2016, which was attended by more than 400 representatives of both Ukrainian and Canadian business. The forum was focused on four key sectors – agriculture, energy efficiency, innovations, and IT. The event was attended by the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, the Minister of International Trade (now the Minister of Foreign Affairs) Chrystia Freeland , and a high-level Ukrainian government delegation.

Business Forum has demonstrated investment advantages of Ukraine for representatives of Canadian business and encouraged establishing trade contacts between small and medium-sized enterprises of both countries. The event included over 90 B2B meetings that evolved into business negotiations and signing of contracts.

The post-forum activities are focused on the comprehensive support of small and medium-sized businesses. CUTIS experts develop all information materials required for proactive companies that are ready to export to Canada: step-by-step guides, business matchmaking recommendations, explanations on Canada-specific aspects of labelling, packaging and licensing, customs rules, product certification, etc. Also, CUTIS promptly advises entrepreneurs across the country on the available opportunities to enter Canada’s market.

During the first year, CUTIS hosted dozens of meetings with entrepreneurs interested in exporting to Canada, representatives of energy, IT, confectionary, and consumer goods industry.

The project team in Toronto (Canada) has been identifying investors that are ready to support Ukrainian business, specifically at the regional level. CUTIS will match Ukrainian enterprises with potential Canadian partners and advise Canadian businesses on investment proposals from Ukrainian businesses.

To facilitate access of businesses to such information across all regions of Ukraine export and investment web-portals are being created.

Also, CUTIS will cooperate with Ukrainian government officials and businesses to help them use maximum benefits of ratification of the landmark Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) that was signed in summer 2016 during the first official visit of Justin Trudeau to Kyiv. To better communicate information on benefits offered by the CUFTA regional tours and meetings will be organized, during which the project experts will educate Ukrainian businesses about new conditions of exporting to Canada and other advantages of the CUFTA.

The project will also provide comprehensive support concerning exports of five priority commodity groups to Canada. Unfortunately, CUTIS cannot provide direct support to all enterprises willing to enter Canada’s market. For this reason a research was initiated to identify Ukrainian goods that are top priority for Canada. In spring 2017 CUTIS will know five commodity groups that have better chances for success in Canada.   

Upon presentment of results of such research a transparent selection will be conducted in the most transparent manner to identify enterprises of the prioritized sectors, which are eligible to get a full-scale support. Ukrainian enterprises from all regions may participate in the selection.

The project will facilitate participation of the selected enterprises in trade fairs and events aimed at expanding business relations in Canada. They will get professional advice directly from Canadian specialists and use their assistance to adapt Ukrainian goods to regulatory requirements for exports to Canada. The project will include joint work on packaging, licensing, environmental certification, marketing, compliance with standards of Canadian laws and regulations.

Such comprehensive support is expected to materialize in successful market entry of Ukrainian goods and stimulate a significant expansion of Ukraine-Canada trade.

One more aspect of the project is to develop competences and skills of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the field of exports and attraction of investments. CUTIS will share best world practices in the sphere of international trade and attraction of investments with Ukrainian Ministries, reform project offices, chambers of commerce and industry, and business associations.

In December 2016 CUTIS and WTO conducted an international trade negotiations training simulation. A series of trainings on identification of priority sectors for export and use of dedicated software is scheduled for February 2017. Similar professional events will be hosted during the project.

In cooperation with regional partners CUTIS will offer courses aimed to develop export capacities of small and medium-sized enterprises. The materials obtained will be used to further educate local entrepreneurs.

The goal of the project is to deliver practical skills to the governmental authorities and organizations promoting business development. Canada’s competence and expertise will help the Ukrainian stakeholders to strengthen their professionalism, expand horizons of trade and contribute to Ukraine’s success globally.

Improvement of the regulatory framework in Ukraine is a prerequisite to success of Ukrainian goods in Canada. CUTIS will cooperate with the Government of Ukraine to harmonize Ukrainian and Canadian standards. Regulatory approximation will facilitate the market entry process for Ukrainian businesses in Canada.

Yet another important aspect is cooperation with Ukrainian testing laboratories in five priority sectors to help them get certified by the relevant Canadian regulatory agencies. At the moment international quality certificate is a pass for goods to Western markets.

Entering the Canadian market requires efforts, time and substantial work on the products. However, it is a challenge rather than an obstacle for Ukrainian producers. Proactive business is an efficient drive for trade. CUTIS goal is to be a compass that will show a proper direction to the entrepreneurs.

CUTIS has a number of ambitious goals and is gaining momentum – year 2017 is expected to offer an array of opportunities to Ukrainian exporters. We are open for partnering with regional business associations, chambers of commerce and industry, and entrepreneurs.

Canada is waiting for you. Don’t miss the opportunity!

Source: “Strategy of development” magazine

Author: Olga Vergeles, Canada-Ukraine Trade Investment Support project manager