A solution tailor-made for today’s challenges

While some Canadian exporters faced severe declines in orders from their international customers due to COVID-19, others struggled to keep up with surges in demand. Regardless of where your company falls in this continuum, there’s no denying the pandemic has thrown roadblocks into the paths of most small- and medium-sized businesses.

In any given year, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) is responsible for helping to remove impediments that exporters might face while they pursue business opportunities abroad. But that’s never been more critical than today as, slowly but surely, the global economy reopens. As we well know, there’s no single lever to pull that will switch all exporting businesses back into full gear and there will continue to be bumps in the road. Which is why it’s particularly timely that we, at the TCS, have just launched our Exporter Solutions online service.

Got an urgent export problem? Get a fast, expert solution.

If you’re experiencing an urgent, in-market, export-related issue, then help is just one business day away. Simply click on the Get help now button, fill in our online form—it’s fast and simple—and we’ll forward your request on to a trade commissioner who specializes in your market and sector. With more than 160 locations around the world—and upwards of 1,000 trade experts working on the ground in all markets—we’ll put you in touch with someone who can help solve your export problem as quickly as possible.

Within 24 hours, you’ll receive an email, introducing you to the trade commissioner best suited to help satisfy your specific need. Trade commissioners can provide critical insights, guidance and invaluable contacts to get your business deal back on track. Our pragmatic no-wrong-door approach means if we can’t provide the assistance you need, we’ll connect you with another Government of Canada organization that can. The TCS works very closely with Export Development Canada (EDC); in fact, we literally work side-by-side in several key markets around the world.

TCS’s Exporter Solutions

Fast and reliable advice for all your export challenges.

Is your problem critical? Then Get help now.

Or click here if you have more time to Troubleshoot your situation.

What constitutes urgent?

When complications arise halfway around the world, they always feel urgent. But clearly, some issues need to be resolved immediately, while others can be worked on in the weeks and months to come.

So, what constitutes an urgent export issue? Whether you’re a veteran exporter or new to the game, there are a number of situations that can arise that seem to go from complicated to critical in no time—and pose a risk of immediate, unexpected costs. Here’s just a few that come to mind from my years in the field:

  • You have a shipment being held up in an international port and you’re getting the runaround, no matter who you contact.
  • You have concerns about where your goods are being temporarily stored or warehoused.
  • At a critical stage of negotiating a sale with a new foreign client, you’re encountering problems with your local partner, and they’re not returning your calls.
  • You were just told that your customs declarations weren’t filled in correctly or that the wrong forms were used.
  • You’ve become a victim of unfair business practices, or perhaps some rules have changed in
    the country where you’re exporting.
  • You’re having difficulties getting paid for goods shipped.
  • Your goods have been flagged as non-compliant with local-content requirements.

Where do your urgent requests go?

If you run into any of the problems listed above—or anything similarly urgent—a trade commissioner familiar with the local business environment should be your first point of contact. Often, a few simple calls on our part can clarify a situation quickly, with credibility and at no cost to you. If the circumstances require specialized services from a customs broker, lawyer, or other third-party provider, we can provide you with the names of vetted professionals who we’ve worked with before—potentially saving you hours trying to identify someone yourself.

This new and exciting digital tool created by the TCS is a great example of leveraging our partner’s expertise and making it available to Canadian companies in a seamless manner. It’s yet one more tool in the growing ecosystem toolbox that businesses will have access to throughout their export journey.

Armin Nourozi  —  Regional vice-president, Strategic Alliances, Partner ChannelsExport Development Canada

Let me just say that in the last year, which was rife with travel bans and similar complications, our global network of trade commissioners and in-market trade facilitators were in high demand. Business owners couldn’t meet potential new partners or buyers face-to-face, nor could they hop on a plane to solve a crisis. So, Canadian exporters turned to the TCS for help to an even greater degree: Delivery of problem-solving services by the TCS jumped 39% last year. And I’m proud to say that our clients reported a 91% satisfaction rate with our work.

One of the most significant benchmarks we track is based on what we refer to as “successes”—actual contracts that companies have won or business partnerships that have been established based on referrals from the TCS. That number also rose significantly last year, and we’re honoured to have been able to support so many Canadian businesses that were able to overcome the disruptions brought about by the pandemic.

What about your not-so-urgent problems?

Whether you’re just thinking about exporting for the first time, or looking to expand into market No. 15, you’re bound to have a lot of questions. To help prepare you to take that next step, check out the Troubleshoot your situation option on the Exporter Solutions page. You can choose from a list of common export scenarios and find out how to deal with them, plus get recommendations for more detailed learning resources on these topics.

Here’s just a short list of the subject categories you’ll find:

When you’re in market

  • issues with a foreign business partner
  • bribes or other corruption-related issues
  • non-payment issues
  • export controls, trade sanctions, and other trade barriers
  • travel and other business issues related to COVID-19

When you’re planning to go to market

  • international business practices or responsible business conduct issues
  • how to verify the credibility of an organization abroad
  • Canada’s international trade agreements
  • labelling and local-content requirements
  • intellectual property rights

Exporting logistics

  • certificates of origin, export permits or declaring your exports
  • transport insurance or shipping procedures

Our list of common problems that exporters encounter was curated by a group of trade commissioners who’ve had experience around the world, so they’re well-versed in the types of problems typically faced by our clients—especially those new to the process.

Experienced exporters know that research and preparation can save you countless hours of aggravation—not to mention costs—in the long run. The idea behind the “Troubleshoot” option is to not only highlight what problems you may encounter, but more importantly, arm you with possible solutions that can be incorporated in your planning processes. 

What’s more, if you can’t find the answers you need from our self-serve menu options, you can always submit your question as a general inquiry. We’ll then route your request to one of our TCS offices in Canada or abroad, or to whichever trade organization is most suited to help you. We’re typically able to provide you with those referrals within five business days.

Benefits to you

If you’ve worked with the TCS in the past, then you’ve no doubt got a list of trade commissioners who you connect with on a regular basis. So, if a new situation arises where you need help—urgent or otherwise—you already know who to call.

But if you’ve never worked with the TCS before, or if you’re not familiar with our team in a market that’s new to you, then here’s your chance. We’re committed to helping you succeed in international markets and Exporter Solutions was developed to do just that: Provide faster and easier access to our expertise. 

TCS primer

Not familiar with the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS)? Here’s a quick overview. With offices in more than 160 cities worldwide, the TCS helps companies navigate the complexities of international markets and make better business decisions.

We gain market intelligence, uncover opportunities for Canadian companies and help reduce business costs and risks. The TCS is a free service of the Government of Canada, helping companies to prepare for international markets, assess market potential, find qualified contacts and resolve business problems.

Our network of international contacts is unbeatable. We can increase the credibility of Canadian companies in global markets by helping them gain access to local contacts not readily available to outside businesses.

TCS insights help you save time and money by avoiding costly mistakes that may result from trial and error. We often know what questions companies need to ask, but may not be aware of. We have hands-on knowledge that comes from helping thousands of companies each year to pursue opportunities in global markets. We understand the sensitivity of your business information and we respect its confidentiality.

Whether you’re looking to export, invest abroad, attract investment, or develop innovation and R&D partnerships, our global network of business professionals can help. 

TCS fast facts

  • Free services to qualified Canadian companies doing business abroad
  • Six regional offices across Canada
  • More than 160 international offices around the world
  • 1,000+ trade commissioners globally
  • 93% of businesses served are small- or medium-sized
  • Key areas of support:

- Ensure you’re export-ready

- Share market insights to help you assess market potential

- Provide introductions to potential customers, suppliers, partners, agents and distributors

- Connect you to vetted in-market lawyers, accountants, translators, culture and language interpreters, and customs brokers

- Assist you in solving unanticipated problems

Learn more at www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca