Sooke businesses eye international trade

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada trade commissioner visits Sooke

In an age of large-scale globalization, one business may not be too far away from another, even if they are thousands of kilometers apart. It starts with a bridge, a first contact, to make up the tissue of a beneficial partnership for both sides.

But that leaves the question: where does Sooke’s business community stand in this grand global equation?

Those wondering how they could take a bite out of a broader international market attended last week’s presentation at City Hall featuring Marilyn MacLean Denton, trade commissioner for Vancouver Island and head of the Victoria office of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

Denton visited Sooke as part of her Island-wide tour informing smaller communities and business owners of what the Trade Commissioner Service is and what its agents have to offer with the CanExport program.

The program, which is free for businesses and runs for five years, allows a small- to medium-sized Canadian business to open channels with a similar market overseas and across the world. This is achieved through a network of 900 trade commissioners located across the globe and in virtually every existing market.

So far, trade commissioners serve 13,500 clients, with agents scattered throughout 175 cities around the world.

If a local business wants to take part, they contact a trade commissioner in the market they wish to branch out into, provide a description of what their business is, and a commissioner then evaluates their company’s output and potential success  in that international market.

It’s also important that the companies research the market they’re pursuing, Denton said.

“The last thing anyone wants is a Canadian company to get into a foreign market, make a colossal mistake and go bankrupt,” she said.

“We’re trying to avoid that by doing our preparation and encouraging companies to stay in touch with the local trade commissioner here in Canada.”

Sooke acting mayor Kerrie Reay said the presentation was beneficial for the public, highlighting that at one point in Sooke’s history, the town once exported crab traps to Chile, so it’s no stranger to international business.

“[An international market] is a possibility, and we certainly have to start thinking outside the box,” Reay said.

For more info about the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service and how to participate, please call 1-888-306-9991 or email pacific-pacifique.tcs.sdc@international.gc.ca. Those interested in the CanExport program can also visit international.gc.ca/CanExport or call 1-866-203-2454.