The EU is Canada’s second-largest trading partner and the world’s largest integrated economy, with more than 500 million consumers and a GDP of over $17 trillion. The Comprehensive and Economic Agreement (CETA) represents Canada’s most significant trade initiative since the much debated and divisive North American Free Trade Agreement.
Western Canada is under-represented in the trade dynamic with the EU, particularly regarding small and medium sized companies. Whereas large corporations can marshal considerable resources to facilitate internationalization, SMEs often underestimate their potential to be successful internationally, to become a “micro-multinational” in effect, because they lack knowledge of foreign markets and because of perceived obstacles. Among these perceived obstacles are difficulties in identifying market opportunities and entry strategies, choosing reliable foreign partners, accessing financing, overcoming trade barriers, and complying with security and authentication requirements.
While the West historically and naturally looks towards Asia as its most important secondary trade partner, with the signing of CETA, bilateral opportunities will flourish and SMEs in Western Canada need to position themselves in order to capitalize upon those opportunities.
Over the past two decades in Vancouver, most of the trade and business associations dealing primarily with single member states have closed their doors, gone dormant or moved elsewhere. Yet now, as never before, the presence of an organization facilitating trade and investment with the European Union would be required to assist companies in Canada and the EU capitalize on the market liberalization that CETA will bring.