Exporting to Canada Featured

9:53am EDT July 22, 2002

What country is the largest trading partner of the USA? Hint — the U.S. exports more to it than to the next two largest trading partners combined (Mexico and Japan). The answer is Canada. Have you considered exporting to Canada?

The Canadian economy is growing rapidly and is hungry for imports. Many of the goods imported into Canada are for use in its manufacturing industries. Its electronic industry, led by telecommunication giants such as Nortel, is a huge importer of U.S. components.

The Canadian aerospace industry is the fifth largest in the world, led by Bombardier, the world’s third largest aircraft manufacturer. (Bombardier also owns Lear Jet of the U.S. and Shorts Brothers of the U.K.) The Canadian chemical industry imports more than $12 billion in products a year. The construction industry, valued at around $50 billion a year, is a large importer.

The service industries of Canada are importers of American products, such as management consulting. Other service industries seeking U.S. imports are finance, health and social services and education. Tourism contributes about $17 billion to the Canadian GDP, but is a two-way street, with Canadians spending about $10 billion each year in the U.S.

There is a huge demand for American-made consumer goods. The Canadian lifestyle is much the same as in the U.S., and disposable income is about the same. The consumer goods you sell to Americans should also be of interest to Canadians.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) makes it easier for American companies and individuals to do business in Canada. But remember that Canada is another country, and there are some differences. Like the rest of the world outside the U.S., it uses the metric system. It also has different labeling regulations.

However, these are minor differences compared to some of the differences in other countries. If you have never exported, Canada is a good place to start. Most Canadians speak the same language and do business about the same way we do. Think of Canada as the “training wheels” period of your export business.

You may want to find out what business there is in Canada by attending a trade show. Industrial and consumer trade shows are as prolific in Canada as in the U.S. You don’t have to exhibit on your first trip; just attend to get a feel for the business climate. The trip may also provide you with initial contacts and leads.

There’s a lot of business to be had in Canada. Each month, U.S. companies sell more than $10 billion worth of products to the “Great White North.” Shouldn’t your company be part of this action? Gerhard W. Kautz is the president of GWEM Systems Limited of Ottawa, Canada, a company that provides the Canadian Market Development Services to American companies. Kautz can be contacted at (613) 821-6203 or by e-mail at gwkautz@cyberus.ca.