Canada and the European Union have yet to formally sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen is encouraging exporters to start reaching out across the Atlantic.
Dreeshen was in the United Kingdom last week as part of a trade mission led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In addition to a half-dozen other MPs, and International Trade Minister Ed Fast, the delegation also included about 35 representatives of various business entities — from ag producers and commodity associations to trade organizations.
After flying to London on Sept. 2, Dreeshen and his counterparts spoke with U.K. distributors who are familiar with European trade practices. They provided insight into what consumers there want and how they want it — such as the size of the containers that products come in.
“They shop differently in Europe than we do here,” said Dreeshen. “Every day, people sort of go and pick up what they need.”
European consumers’ tastes also differ, so a Canadian exporter can’t assume that a product that’s popular in this country will appeal to buyers there.
Canadian businesses that want to tap into the emerging trade opportunities in Europe should be proactive, said Dreeshen. That includes researching the market and building relationships.
“I think it’s important for them to start letting (the Europeans) know what kind of products they have, letting them know that what we produce will fit in well with the needs of their consumers. And then, I think, it’s important for them to start making contacts with those kinds of organizations and business interests that would fit well with them.”
Dreeshen said Europeans are enthused about CETA and the prospects of more liberalized trade with Canada.
“They see it as something that’s important to the future.”
Dreeshen said he participated in the trade mission because he’s on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. It was a great opportunity, he said, although the Sept. 2 to 5 trip did conflict with last week’s announcement that Red Deer had been chosen to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“I was on the phone waiting,” he said.