The Enhanced EU-Canada Economic Partnership: Challenges and Opportunities for SMEs
For the third time, the European Commission has awarded a grant to the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada – West (ICCC), with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Milan, for a winning project on EU-Canada relations. The Commission announced that the successful proposal in its 2011 “Call for Proposals: Public Diplomacy and Outreach EU-Canada”, was ICCC’s project titled “The Enhanced EU-Canada Economic Partnership: Challenges and Opportunities for SMEs”.
ICCC forms part of a network of 75 Italian Chambers of Commerce spread throughout the world, six of which will be project partners for activities in Toronto, Montreal, Brussels, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. The primary partner and co-financier of the project will be the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Brussels (CCBI) which has significant experience in theorganization of awareness campaigns about the European Union held outside the EU, as well as in organizing training programmes for SMEs in the fields of internationalization, European project drafting and entrepreneurship.
CCBI, together with ICCC’s office in Milan, will carry out a series of activities in the EU that will be linked to a similar but expanded series of activities in Canada. Canadian partners will be the Provincial Governments in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec; the Italian Chambers of Commerce in Toronto and Montreal; the Chambers of Commerce or Board of Trades in Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and St. John’s; the Institute of European Studies at the University of British Columbia; and Postmedia Newspaper Network.
Each category of activity held across Canada and in the EU: business forums, seminars, conferences, study tours, the production and dissemination of information products, will have a differentiated target audience but a common goal, that of taking the EU-Canada relationship forward by providing multiple occasions for exploring EU-Canada cooperation through facilitating the involvement of SMEs in Canada and the EU in the opportunities arising from the expanded trade relations deriving from CETA and of formulating concrete recommendations with respect to future initiatives. The project will utilize innovative technology (webcasts, webinars, internet forums and social media) to build a bridge linking the activities and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic to achieve increased visibility of the EU in Canada.
Activities will be held right across Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal), working with local business organizations and involving the provincial CETA negotiators and policy makers. Since there are significant variations among provinces in trade flows with the EU (as well as, obviously, in economy, demographics and socio-political environment), programmes will be tailored specifically for each region in consultation with the local partners to focus on the most relevant issues:
- Air Transport
- Agricultural Policies
- Regulatory Cooperation
- Trade and Investment
and concentrate on exploring EU-Canada collaboration with the ultimate goal of formulating a series of recommendations. Provincial and federal policy makers will also be included in some of the EU-based activities by organizing events bringing together EU businesses and the Provincial European in-market representatives.
A cohesive communications strategy will be developed and implemented involving print and digital media to promote the project activities in Canada. This will bring a spotlight on the potential for SMEs to grow their businesses as a result of closer cooperation between Canada and the EU. Media coverage of the CETA negotiations in Canada has been mixed with increasingly negative viewpoints appearing in proportion to coverage of recent political and financial crises in some member states and of vociferous lobbying by a few anti-CETA groups. By undertaking a media campaign in partnership with Postmedia Newspaper Network, ICCC will ensure objective coverage of the activities and reporting on some of the success stories discovered during the course of the project in seven of the most authorative newspapers in Canada. A dedicated journalist hired by Postmedia Newspaper Network will also travel to Europe to attend some of the EU activities and report back on his/her experiences and findings.