Canadian Manufacturing

Ottawa launching new trade plan aimed at boosting SME exports

Plan looks to bolster number of SMEs exporting to emerging markets to 21,000 firms by 2018



OTTAWA—Canada’s international trade minister has unveiled a Conservative government plan aimed at boosting the role small and medium-sized firms play in the export market.

Unveiled during a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Minister Ed Fast introduced the Global Markets Action Plan, which looks to target both emerging and established for export expansion by SMEs from across the nation.

“Under the (plan), our government will concentrate its efforts on markets that hold the greatest promise for Canadian business—and focus on core objectives within those markets,” Fast said in a statement detailing the plan.

“We will do this through vigorous and continual trade promotion, supported by ambitious trade policy. In short, this new plan will play to your strengths and ensure that all of Canada’s diplomatic assets are harnessed to support the pursuit of commercial success by Canadian companies and investors.”

A major objective of the plan is the idea of boosting the role SMEs play in exporting to emerging markets.

According to Fast, his ministry’s plan includes increasing Canada’ SME export presence in emerging markets from the current 29 per cent to 50 per cent by 2018.

That five-year window would see the number of SMEs in emerging markets from 11,000 to 21,000 companies.

While Fast was short on details, he did lay out in rough terms the key elements of what will make up the new plan, including a new trade promotion plan based on the concept of “economic diplomacy”—utilizing federal resources to maximize the success of Canadian commercial interests abroad.

The plan also includes provisions for refining the nation’s trade policy tools, aligning government and business priorities and leveraging Canada’s trade deal with the United States and its pending deal with the European Union (EU).

“In a fiercely competitive global economy, Canada cannot be complacent,” Fast said. We must be more aggressive and effective than the intense competition we face as we advance Canada’s commercial interests in key global markets.

“This new plan represents a sea of change in the way Canada’s diplomatic assets are deployed around the world, and in doing so, we are ensuring that the commercial success of Canadian firms and investors is entrenched as one of our core foreign policy objectives.”

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