Теги: робота з бізнесом
Standards in Canada: How to Overcome Barriers and Take Advantage of the Free Trade Agreement

It will soon be six months since the free trade regime came into force between Ukraine and Canada. How can Ukrainian exporters leverage the regime to get the highest possible advantage?

It is not a secret that after the abolition of tariff barriers, it is the non-tariff requirements that are sometimes rather difficult to overcome. Accordingly, the compliance of Ukrainian products with the regulatory requirements of the Canadian market becomes the key issue for exporters.

It is known that requirements for goods are usually issued in the form of standards and technical regulations. The former is voluntary, while the latter is mandatory to comply with. However, in Canada, one will not find such a clear division.

The standards in Canada can be conventionally divided into:

  1. Standards developed by standardization bodies;
  2. National standards;
  3. “Obligatory” standards. Right, don’t be surprised, I mean the obligatory standards.

Now, let’s take a detailed look. In Canada, nine organizations have an accreditation of the Standards Council of Canada to develop standards.

It is important that the Standards Council of Canada does not develop any standards. It accredits standardization organizations and compliance assessment bodies. However, the Council has the right to approve the standards as national standards of Canada (which, however, remain voluntary). There are currently around 3 thousand of such national standards.

Although the standardization organizations in Canada compete with each other, they have a certain specialization. 

For example, Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) is traditionally specialized in developing standards for public procurement, organic products, office equipment, fireproofing of textile products, etc. It was CGSB that developed the standard for Canada’s national flag.

This organization, by the way, has existed since 1934, and works based on the principles of self-sustainability without receiving any state funding.

Importantly, it is currently the only one of the nine Canadian standardization organizations whose standards can be obtained for free.

Canadian Standardization Association (CSA Group) is another influential Canadian standardization organization specializing in products like electrical appliances, construction materials, vehicles, etc. For example, CSA is the author of the Canadian Electrical Code – a collective name for the standards that set requirements for underground and terrestrial electricity distribution networks, street lighting, household appliances, etc.”

Standards become obligatory when they are referenced in Regulations of Canada.

The Regulations of Canada are somewhat similar in nature to by-laws in Ukraine – they detail and supplement the provisions of Laws (in Canada – Acts). For example, in addition to the Consumer Product Safety Act, about 35 Regulations were adopted.

Public authorities in Canada increasingly use standards when drafting Regulations – the standards (or their parts) are incorporated into Regulations and thus become mandatory.

According to recent estimates, there are references to approximately 1,000 standards in the Regulations at the federal level. Hundreds of standards are referenced in provincial-level Regulations.

As for the compliance assessment bodies, there are more than 400 of them in Canada. They are also accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.

What does this mean for a Ukrainian exporter in practice?

The key question is “How to find out what requirements are put forward to your product?” The best way is to get in touch with a regulatory authority in Canada. Believe it or not, but this recommendation came from the Canadian regulatory authorities themselves. Our experience shows that requests are taken seriously and responses are sent by the authority within one to two weeks (depending on complexity of the request).

For example, medical equipment, toys, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, radiation equipment are managed by Health Canada. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is engaged in management of telecommunication equipment, and Transport Canada deals with vehicles and tires.

In addition, attention should also be paid to provincial-level requirements that may differ from those of the federal level.

For example, the requirements for electrical appliances are contained in the Canadian Electrical Code developed by the CSA and adopted at the federal and provincial levels (in ten provinces and three territories of Canada). However, there are additional requirements in Ontario (so-called “deviations”) outlined in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.

Taking into account the existence of the Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and Canada, many producers consider Canada as a hub for exports to North America or as a starting point for exports to the United States. In terms of technical regulation, this approach may be fully justified as many US and Canadian standards are harmonized or developed jointly.

Thus, CSA has the accreditation of the American National Standards Institute, and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.

Finally, it is worth remembering the famous phrase: where there is a will there is a way.

There are many more ways to export to Canada than reasons to be afraid of the Canadian standards. So, feel free to contact Canadian regulatory authorities, bring your products to the level of Canadian standards and expand your business horizons.

Author: Oleksandra Brovko, CUTIS Senior Trade and Investment policy expert

Source: European Pravda

U CAN Export: F.A.Q.

Want to export to Canada, but do not know where to start? We have prepared the answers to the most frequent questions exporters ask us.

I would like to join the export support program U CAN Export? What should I do?

The CUTIS project has now completed the selection of the first wave of the U CAN EXPORT Export Support Program participants in four priority sectors: clothing, footwear, furniture, and confectionery. The final stage of selection of participants from the IT services sector will take place in the spring of 2018.

The selected participants, with the support of Canadian industry consultants, are preparing to participate in exhibitions in Canada throughout 2018. Applicants who were not selected were included in the reserve of the participants of the U CAN EXPORT program. They will have a chance to take part in an integrated level of the program in the future, as well as take advantage of all the opportunities of its educational/consultational level. The rotation of the companies will take place after the project’s cooperation with the current program participants will be completed.

If your company is not among selected ones but wishes to enter the U CAN Export Support Program, please fill out a short application form here. The selection of companies from the reserve will be conducted on a competitive basis, by filling out special questionnaires, interviewing company representatives and visiting applicants’ production (if needed).

After completing the application, your company will also be included in the CUTIS project exporter database and will receive information and training materials, invitations to trainings and other project activities.

My company is not in the priority sectors. What should I do?

For companies in all other sectors, we have developed a step-by-step export guide to Canada I CAN EXPORT. It covers most of the issues faced by exporters, such as:

  • consumer preferences of Canadians
  • search for partners in Canada
  • the procedure of crossing the border and the requirements for the documentation
  • regulatory constraints on the Canadian market
  • logistics, etc.

Also, our project is currently developing an export portal with useful information for Ukrainian exporters.

We encourage you to subscribe to our Facebook page, where we constantly publish interesting information on trade with Canada and announce all our events. You can also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter.

I want to get a comprehensive help to enter the Canadian market. Who should I contact?

Unfortunately, our project does not have the resources to systematically help all the companies that contact us. However, there are other organizations that have a lot of experience in helping Ukrainian companies to enter the Canadian market.

For example, you can contact the Canadian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (CUCC), which is a partner in implementing our project. CUCC has been supporting trade and investment development between Canada and Ukraine for more than 25 years and has offices in Toronto, Alberta and Ukraine. The Chamber organizes business forums, trade missions and conferences in Canada, promotes business contacts between the two countries, has partnerships with Governments of Canada and Ukraine, and provides a wide range of assistance services for Ukrainian exports to Canada.

Follow CUCC on Facebook

Life-hacks to successfully negotiate with a Canadian partner

In Canada sellers are fully responsible for the quality of the goods on their shelves. Therefore, Ukrainian companies that work with Canadians have to follow the regulatory and certification requirements closely.

Musthaves for exporters

To get your goods to the supermarket shelves, you have to ensure 101% compliance within the letter of the law. The requirements are quite strict in Canada. Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) may help to learn all regulatory requirements for the food products. You need to enter the product code or name and the website will automatically generate the list of requirements.

If entrepreneurs intend to supply non-food products to Canada they will have to study sector-specific legislation. No single magic portal contains all the information.

Also, there is a number of “voluntary-compulsory” certificates in Canada. In this market, sellers bear full responsibility to end consumers for the goods on their shelves.

Sellers are interested to have not simply good but the best products, which are fully certified and safe.

I, therefore, recommend exporters to start reviewing GFSI certification right away, as it includes the following certificates: BRC global standard for foods safety Issue 6; FSSC22000; SQF code 7th Edition Level 2; IFS Foods Standard Version 6; Global Aquaculture Alliance Seafood BAP Seafood Processing Standard. These are the certificates that will make your goods much more attractive for retail chain representatives. It is hard but necessary.

In addition, large Canadian supermarket chains often require their suppliers to go through a corporate social responsibility (CSO) audit before the supply of goods. Canadians are known to be “moral buyers”. Canadian business prefers the suppliers who do not violate labour, gender or human rights. Nevertheless, few Ukrainian companies can boast of something else within the CSO framework than charity campaigns or formal policies.

Veni, vidi, vici 

As a rule, Canadian companies plan their meetings well in advance and will not meet you at inconvenient time even if you need it urgently and “it will take only five minutes”. No cancellation or force majeure, unless you want to lose your partner’s trust.

Based on my practical experience, it took 5 months to organize a meeting of Ukrainian food manufacturers with a supermarket chain in Canada. The Canadian party’s timetable is booked for months to come.

In 99% of cases, the first meeting is held personally: no Skype or teleconference. If you want a result, you will have to travel to Canada. The meeting itself goes quickly and intensively. You must take product samples with you. Most likely, the importer will ask you of the possibilities to change the products: packing design, labelling, taste line, frequency of supplies.

The first meeting may last 7 to 30 minutes. The first contact is the indicator of interest. If a company manages to catch the interests of Canadians their quality and safety specialists will need to analyse the samples in detail.

After the meeting, there may be two possible case scenarios. Under the negative scenario for the Ukrainian company, it will hear of the Canadians’ decision within a month or a month and a half; a positive outcome will, most likely, be known within about a year.

First scenario: the products have been tested and they are not different from those of the existing supplier. This means there is no sense to continue negotiations. A letter on such a decision will come, as a rule, 1-1.5 months after the meeting. The answer is usually straightforward: “Thank you, but our company decided to extend its contract with the existing supplier”.

Second scenario: the partner liked your products but this is only the beginning of further work. Depending on individual Canadian food importers, the working process with supplying companies takes 2 months to one year between the discussion and negotiation and the first supply of your products to the supermarket or warehouse.

As soon as the importer confirms its intentions, you will be entered into the internal system and an individual project will be launched with a dedicated manager. Further, step by step, you will be discussing prices, mix, packing, design and batch volumes over the phone or Skype.

In addition, a schedule is mandatorily developed for provision of necessary start-up documents. For instance, a future supplier should submit a third party insurance agreement, a goods insurance agreement, a confirmation of the goods’ compliance with Canadian organic standards. It will take time and financial resources to compile and coordinate those documents. This is a part of the process, however, and one may only get the goods to the supermarket shelves upon successful passage of this phase.

Author: Olga Vergeles, Project Manager, Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support Project (CUTIS)

Source: Delo.ua

Ukrainian Products: Paving the Way to Canadian Supermarkets

The Ukrainian food producers who consider placing their products on the shelves of Canadian supermarkets have a long and thorny way ahead. It is like running a marathon. You gear up, have trainings, and make a step-by-step try: a 10-kilometre distance, then a semi-marathon, and only after that you are prepared to run the whole distance. Provided that you have enough energy, willingness and understand the purpose.

Let us analyze the key stages of the cross-Atlantic marathon and barriers on the way to the Canadian retail chains. To begin with, we will concentrate on the questions “what should you sell?” and “whom to?”

Analyzing the demand for your products and consumer preferences in Canada

Your potential Canadian buyers are numerous (over 35 million) and diverse. Canada is a multicultural country; over 20% of its residents were born outside Canada. Consequently, the customs and preferences of Canadian consumers and partners are dissimilar. I would recommend that you start doing your homework by searching for information using the following resources:

  • Canadian Importer Database, which provides lists of companies importing goods into Canada, with breakdown by product, by city, and by country of origin.
  • Canadian Company Capabilities Directory offers more complete company information. In addition, this tool enables searching by industry. The database includes predominantly Canadian producers, and sometimes distributors.
  • Trade Data Online is another convenient tool to get information on importing goods to Canada, in general and by country.

You may get some information from these resources for free.


Source: Flickr

Studying the demand and the products offered by your competitors is more efficient when you do so on site, that is in Canada, by engaging other people, for example from the Ukrainian diaspora. It is critical that a company may invest into such study. Let us consider some potential market analysis scenarios.

Do-it-yourself market analysis. You, as a producer, go to Canada and – having drafted a plan of visits to certain supermarkets, grocery stores, and points of sale – study the products of a particular group, the prices and the available range. It is an efficient method enabling to understand the proper place and manner of presenting your goods. In addition (a real-world example), if you demonstrate a strong interest and a maximum insistence, you may get contacts of a person active in purchasing for a grocery store or a supermarket suitable for your goods.

Analysis by an agency or an agent. On the one hand, it is a plain vanilla: you contract an agency to conduct the study and, within a specified period, get the report. On the other hand, the agency is not a producer; it will demonstrate its enthusiasm solely within the limits specified in the contract. You cannot exclude that the agent you choose has his own views on the potential of your goods. Among the agents, you may find the representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora living in Canada for years. Often they see the specific nature of the Ukrainian producers, market requirements and demand from the eyes of Canadians. However, I would not recommend you accept a common conception that it is easier to make a deal with a fellow countryman; sometimes it proves unjustified. Your countrymen residing in Canada mind their business interests rather than nationality.

Market analysis by an organization. The main difference between organizations and agencies is that, in addition to studying the demand and providing you with information, organizations may offer you additional services related to the “ongoing promotion” of your company in Canada: participation in exhibitions, educatory touring, etc. Usually, the membership fee they charge is rather moderate; however, you do not get immediate results or “the first aid”. Promoting takes time and requires ‘adoption’ by the Canadian market.

Players of the Canadian food market: who they are and how they work

Supermarkets are the main players; 64% of food products are displayed on their shelves. A supermarket is a full-function and self-service retail market that sells food, with the annual sales of 2 million Canadian Dollars or more.

The 2015 retail sales by Canadian supermarkets and grocery stores are estimated at about 79 million Canadian Dollars.

The top five Canadian supermarkets by annual sales are: Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Sobeys Inc., Metro Inc., Costco Canada Inc. и Walmart Canada Corp.

When choosing and buying food at supermarkets, a Canadian buyer is guided by the following criteria, in descending order of priority: price, taste/freshness, quality, nutritional value/health benefit, safety.

By offering several brands of grocery stores – depending on the pricing policy – some supermarket chains encourage buyers to make more buys. Thirty-three per cent of Canadian buyers opt for specialized stores according to the principle of lower prices.

Winning in the ethnic buyers sector remains a top priority for chain supermarkets in Canada. For Ukrainian producers it means that representatives of ethnic groups (like Ukrainian or Arab diaspora) may trigger interest to certain food product groups. A proactive analysis will help the producer to identify the most wanted products.

In Canada, a typical distributor interacts with the chains of supermarkets and small grocery stores. Customarily, the distributor operates its warehouses in multiple provinces of Canada, which enable prompt product deliveries to multiple stores all over Canada. Commonly, a distributor is active in the markets of both Canada and the US; this may be useful to expand oversea sales geographically.


Source: Flickr

A distributor may operate a separate chain of small ethnic stores of the same brand. In addition, it may offer products under a private label.

For Ukrainian exporters it is important to know that distributors often show interest to food products matching the tastes of ethnic client groups. They opt for goods with the packaging and formula that remind the consumers about their preferences.

However, you should not narrow your offering excessively.

The partner is not interested in niche goods (e.g., gluten-free snacks) and orients at the goods that are popular among Canadian consumers: from confectionary to species.

An advantage of engaging a distributor is a potentially prompt transaction, which is critical for your entry into the Canadian market. If the goods meet the partner’s price, packaging and labelling requirements, the distributor may deliver them to the supermarket chains within 2 months.

What do the Canadian distributors normally expect from a potential supplier? Firstly, a proposal specifying, among others, the best sellers. Secondly, a list of products, including the product description, packaging options according to the consumers’ requirements and/or preferences, letters of references from serious partners. In addition, the supplier should provide a price list, a potential delivery schedule, and specify whether the products are certified.

Author: Olga Vergeles, Project Manager, Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support Project (CUTIS)

Source: Delo.ua

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