As the saying goes, “There’s good news and bad news.” The bad news is that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and it’s hitting Canadian companies and global trade hard. For exporters, it can mean skyrocketing risks and plummeting sales as their international customers struggle with the upheavals in their own markets.
The good news is that there’s plenty of help available. The Canadian government, together with Export Development Canada (EDC) and our partners, are here to support you as your business faces unprecedented financial risks and stresses in these difficult times.
EDC is also ready to back you up with financial assistance that ranges from credit insurance and expert trade advice to financing guarantees. Our goal is to help you get through the storm and emerge stronger than ever.
Support for your export business
There are direct grants available for exporters who want to enter new export markets, as well as loan guarantees for businesses that need credit support during the global health crisis.
- The federal government’s new $65-billion Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) has extended EDC’s mandate to provide emergency liquidity (maximum $6.25 million) for micro-, small- and medium-sized domestic companies through Canadian financial institutions and private credit insurers.
- EDC’s Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee is a new partnership between EDC and financial institutions across Canada, enabling Canadian companies to access additional credit to cover their payroll and operational costs.
- If you’re a small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) planning to go to a future trade show, you can apply for the federal CanExport for SMEs funding program. If you qualify, the program will reimburse up to 75% of your eligible expenses for entering a new export market, such as the cost of adapting your existing marketing materials, attending trade shows, etc. The maximum amount you can receive is $75,000. For details, refer to the CanExport Applicant's Guide and the Frequently asked questions (FAQs) list.
- Not sure which option is best for your company? On April 20, EDC launched a new COVID-19 business resources interactive tool. It lists all the resources developed by the government and crown corporations to help Canadian businesses during the pandemic.
Support for innovation and R&D
If you need funding for an innovative product or service or for research and development, you can use the following resources:
- Innovation Canada’s online tool will help you identify funding programs related to your company’s product or services. You can also speak with an innovation advisor by calling 1-855-534-8433. They can provide one-on-one support with determining which program(s) might be a good fit for you.
- The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), from the National Research Council (NRC), provides advice, connections and funding to help Canadian SMEs increase their innovation capabilities. Information for companies developing COVID-19-related products is available on the NRC website.
- The Strategic Innovation Fund supports R&D, product commercialization, company growth, investment, and collaboration between the private sector, researchers and non-profit organizations.
- The Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program (SR&ED) can help you obtain tax relief for your R&D programs.
Help with export planning
Before you apply for any type of export-related funding—whether it’s grants, loans, tax breaks or some support—you’ll need a carefully laid-out export plan. If you don’t have one, or if it’s not done properly, your chances of getting support will drop sharply.
There are many resources you can use to help develop an export plan, including:
- EDC’s Action Plan: Mapping Out Your Export Strategy is a webinar that will show you how to create an export plan. It covers getting export-ready, finding the best markets for your company, choosing a market entry strategy and more. Also check out EDC’s article on How to build an export plan for more insights.
- The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has an article on the 3 essential steps for entering a foreign market. BDC also offers free marketing plan templates that you can use to structure your plan.
- The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has a Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting that includes a section on export planning.
- The U.S. International Trade Administration’s page at Get ready to Export: My Export Plan provides another overview of what your plan should cover.
Domestic demand for COVID-19 products and services
The federal and provincial governments are asking companies to step up with products and services to help sustain Canada’s healthcare system during the crisis.
- At the federal level, if you can supply products or services that can help deal with COVID-19, refer to the federal Public Works and Government Services website, specifically these pages. Masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators, eye protection, thermometers and test kits are among the goods needed. Providers of security, nursing, food, laundry and other services are also in demand.
- At the provincial level, Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta have put out requests for medical supplies and services. You can also check the websites of other provincial governments to see what’s needed and where.
Planning for the post-pandemic world
When the health crisis ends, it’s going to be a different world. How drastic those changes will be, and what they’ll mean for business and global trade on the grander scales, is still murky. But one thing is certain: business will not be the same.
As the weeks and months pass and the world slowly gets a grip on the virus, those blurred lines should start to become clear. Companies that develop and continuously update their contingency plans will be better equipped for the post-pandemic world than those that haven’t.
Over the next few months, use the downtime forced on you by COVID-19 to imagine what new opportunities may appear and how you can take advantage of them. And don’t forget: EDC will be there to help you when you need it.