Most small Canadian firms lack global ambition

While some Canadian companies are eager to boost exports to Europe

MONTREAL — While some Canadian companies are eager to boost exports to Europe, small firms that make up the vast majority of businesses lack the global ambition to take advantage of CETA, according to Canadian Manufacturers &Exporters.

Few of these companies export and are probably not ready for increased access to the 16.5 trillion euro economy, the association’s senior vice-president Matthew Wilson says.

“While steps have been made, there’s not enough companies going global and doing international business,” he said in an interview.

“Those who are more internally focused I think are more ready for this agreement than they probably have been for any other agreement in the past.”

Governments of all stripes have been working for years to encourage businesses to harness their export potential.

Yet only about 40,000 of Canada’s one million small- and medium-sized businesses are exporters and just 10,000 of them export outside the United States.

Craig Alexander, chief economist for the Conference Board of Canada, said it’s been a challenge to convince these companies to step up to the plate.

He hopes a pact like the Canada-Europe trade agreement, ratified Wednesday by the European Parliament, will raise awareness among Canadian businesses about the potential for more trade and investment in Europe.

“We need to encourage them to take advantage of those opportunities,” Alexander said from Ottawa.

He said CETA won’t be a “game changer” for the Canadian economy but he expects the elimination of tariffs will gradually lead to $1.4 billion more exports by 2023.

“I think CETA will help facilitate trade and investment but the impact is going to be felt incrementally over a long period of time.”

Alberto Wareham of Icewater Seafoods Inc. isn’t waiting. The Newfoundland-based cod seller, who already sells 90 per cent of his catch to Europe, says he’s ready to sell more fish once tariffs fall and the species continues its path to recovery.

He estimates the elimination of a 7.5-per-cent tariff on frozen cod will save $1 million a year even before higher tariffs on fresh and smoked cod are gradually eliminated. Additional volumes will be directed to the European market.

Seafood is expected to be one of the winners from the trade deal, along with various manufacturing sectors, commodities and services such as engineering and construction.

Wareham says not all companies or seafood products have the marketing infrastructure in place to take advantage of the increased access. But Bruce Chapman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers, said most seafood producers are prepared to adjust and redirect exports from other countries to Europe.

Plastic tube maker Ipex Management hopes to increase its meagre sales to Europe gradually but must first convince potential customers to broaden their supplier base beyond local companies.

“We’re going to have to make inroads by breaking some of the old habits,” said Ves Sobot, director of corporate affairs.

Several large Canadian companies said they are looking forward to new business opportunities and labour mobility rules that will ease access to skilled workers.

Engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin says open markets should result in more jobs and economic growth by delivering engineering work in Europe. Global miner Rio Tinto added that the elimination of duties will make its products more competitive.

Transportation giant Bombardier said the agreement will support its European activities, which include more than 28,000 employees and 34 production and engineering sites.

“As a major investor in Europe, the provisions in the agreement aimed at facilitating business mobility and services, as well as the movement of goods between Canada and Europe, should be helpful,” said the company’s spokesman Simon Letendre.

Just Posted

Huge RV resort proposed for Buffalo Lake

Some residents feel 800-lot RV resort too big for area

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

Land wanted for Central Alberta Foodgrains project

23rd year for Lacombe area charity

Stolen vehicle found thanks to tip from motorist

Charges laid against Red Deer man and Leduc County woman

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Red Deer blood clinic in need of 600 donors

Aunt encourages Central Albertans to donate blood after losing nephew

Court considers banning diesel cars in German cities

BERLIN — A German court began considering Thursday whether authorities should ban… Continue reading

US women beat Canada in Olympic hockey; Gisin tops Shiffrin

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — A tense shootout, a dazzling deke and… Continue reading

Trudeau: Invitation should not have gone to Sikh extremist

NEW DELHI — A man who was convicted of trying to assassinate… Continue reading

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

Evangelist Billy Graham, who reached millions, dies at 99

MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life… Continue reading

Amid a flood of plastic, big companies see opportunity

LONDON — Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is swelling… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month