Now is a great time to enter the global marketplace. Consumers worldwide choose Canadian brands because of our reputation for quality, value and customer service. In March, 2017, Canada’s trade with countries other than the U.S. hit a record $31.2 billion, with exports up 11.4%. 

While global opportunities may be ripening, you need to invest research and time to find these opportunities, and to identify long-term potential.

As you build out your company’s strategy to break into exciting new markets, ask some of the following questions:

  • Who are my competitors?
  • Who are my customers?
  • Which countries import products like mine?

Here are 6 places that will help you answer these questions and find opportunities to grow your business internationally.

Trade data

Before you start exporting, you need to understand your potential markets. Look at the Trade Data Online site, hosted by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. It’s an excellent tool that provides customs-based statistics, including value of products exported annually from Canada to your chosen destination country.

The tool uses the Harmonized System  (HS), an international commodity classification developed by the World Customs Organization. The HS identifies all goods that traverse borders, allowing you identify export opportunities, understand products countries import, export or re-export throughout the world.

Trade shows

A great way to find out what’s hot and what’s not, trade shows introduce you to new trends, products and resources. Trade shows offer a one-stop source for gathering valuable information related to your product or service.

Trade shows also offer face-to-face contact with distributors or potential customers in a new market and create opportunities for strategic alliances.

Industry associations

Industry associations not only offer access to an invaluable network of like-minded people in your industry, they can be a great resource to help you understand where opportunities lie abroad for a specific sector.

Many associations offer broad access to resources, education and training opportunities. By acting as the voice of an industry, associations also play an important role in promoting trade laws and best practices.

Often, membership in a trade association can enhance your business’s reputation, by identifying that your company adheres to regulations, legislations, and a strict code of practice.

Procurement sites

Governments and other large organizations often require a formal procurement process, in which vendors need to adhere to specific guidelines.

There is no one-size-fits-all procurement process. But most processes are set up to save time by helping entities:

  • Choose reputable vendors
  • Minimize delays
  • Ensure organizations pay the best price for goods or services

EDC lists some American and International procurement sites where you can find potential contracts to bid on.

Preferred supplier lists

Another way to find customers in new markets is to position your business to get on a preferred supplier list. Many large companies and governments maintain lists of pre-qualified “preferred vendors,” which helps them save the time required to put out a tender or qualify new vendors for every project. Many companies only share new opportunities with businesses on their preferred supplier list. Learn the steps you need to take to qualify as a preferred supplier.

EDC’s markets of opportunity guide

Knowledge is power when it comes to recognizing international sales opportunities and EDC can help you identify resources to facilitate the sale of your goods and services abroad.

Watch out for our upcoming webinar on finding markets of opportunity or our Markets of Opportunity guide out in June to help you understand countries where your business operates by examining a number of market indicators:

  • Level of risk
  • Ease of doing business
  • Ease of access
  • Demand and Canadian capabilities to supply

This in-depth local market knowledge can help you create a solid plan to grow your company internationally, even if you’re doing business outside of Canada for the first time.