Cannan: Ambitious trade missions can help promote local businesses

The federal government’s Economic Action Plan 2012 emphasized our commitment to creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.

The federal government’s Economic Action Plan 2012 emphasized our commitment to creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canadian workers and their families.

As a member of the International Trade Committee since 2006, I have witnessed our government pursue an aggressive trade agenda to achieve these goals by opening new markets for Canadian business.

To this end, our government is undertaking the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canada’s history and deepening our trading relationships with large, dynamic and fast-growing economies around the world.

In order to grow Canada’s commercial ties in priority markets around the world, help Canadian businesses expand and succeed abroad and build on our commitment to engage and include Canadian businesses in a broad pursuit of deeper trading relationships, we are moving forward with a number of comprehensive trade missions for 2012.

These comprehensive trade missions are government-led business missions, which typically employ the following structure:

• led by minister or caucus member with multiple intersection points with delegates

• specific sectors identified and advertised to potential participants

• typically one week in duration, including two to three cities and/or countries

• full business program for participants, including briefings, plenary sessions, business-to-business meetings, networking events and site visits and

• four to six month planning and recruitment period for participants.

It is important to note that local business participants join these missions at their own expense.

The minister of international trade along with the parliamentary secretary for international trade are planning a total of six Canada trade missions this year.

Since our government first came to office in 2006, there have been 11 Canada trade missions.

All these trade missions will be publicly announced in the coming weeks and more information will be posted to www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/eng/trade-missions/home.jsp.

The first mission already completed was to St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia, June 3 to 8. The targeted sectors were aerospace, building products and construction and mining.

The other trade missions are set for Thailand and Philippines, Aug. 26 to 31. The targeted sectors are energy and clean-tech sectors.

To Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in the fall. With the ongoing reconstruction and development initiatives in Haiti, the leadership role our government has and continues to play is generating positive opportunities and advantages for Canadian companies.

For the purpose of this mission, we will be focusing on the infrastructure and mining sectors.

Mining is the primary sector for Canadian development in the Dominican Republic.

To Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Libya, Oct. 5 to 11. This will primarily be an education, health and infrastructure focused trade mission.

To Panama, Colombia and Peru, Nov. 11 to 16. Infrastructure and mining are the most prominent sectors for trade in these regions.

To Israel, November 2012. Life sciences and information and communications technology will be the focus for this trade mission.

Here in Kelowna-Lake Country, we are in a great position to take advantage of trade opportunities. Many of our companies already do with some almost entirely focused on exporting their goods and services.

With Kelowna consistently ranked as one of the top entrepreneurial cities in B.C. and an economy that is extremely diversified, reflecting traditional and new industries, businesses in the Okanagan Valley are more than ready to take advantage.

I would very much appreciate our business community’s input on both current and future trade missions.

As we begin planning for 2013, it would be helpful to know if there are constituents, businesses or other special interests who could be assisted through a trade mission.

I welcome your feedback, which I will pass along to the international trade minister.

To provide feedback or for more information on any of the trade missions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at ron@cannan.ca or by calling 250-470-5075.