Domestic and International Growth

Grace Tatigian

We need to grow domestically so that we can grow internationally.”


Thats a phrase that Matt Poirier, Director of Trade Policy at Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), finds himself repeating all the time.


Sometimes I feel like a broken record,” he laughs.


CME directly represents more than 10,000 leading companies nationwide, more than 85% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). Furthermore, CMEs membership network accounts for an estimated 90% of all goods and services exported. Do the math; that means that most of Canadas exports are coming from SMEs.


CME supports the signing of as many fair-trade deals as the government can muster, but if we cant increase production, then we wont be able to deliver on those deals. Thats one common problem that Canadian manufacturers run into when first exporting their products. Nationally, were at approximately 80% manufacturing capacity, and so sometimes businesses will bite off a little more than they can chew when they wade into the international markets.


When Canadian manufacturers consider exporting their products, their first target is often the United States, as a baby step. But supplying to Canadas 35 million consumers is one thing, and adding Americas 400 million consumers changes everything. Being too in demandsounds like a pretty good problem to have, but being unable to fulfill contracts can take a toll on a business. And there is a high demand for Canadian-made products.


The maple leaf is a symbol, a brand that known to mean high quality all over the world,” says Poirier. If it has a maple leaf on it, people know thats the gold standard.”


This value comes primarily from our national investment in health and safety standards; it costs a lot to have rules and regulations to ensure appropriate work conditions. So yes, that means that we excel in terms of quality and recognition, but that makes it incredibly difficult to compete with rock-bottom prices coming out of countries that dont have the same kinds of restrictions.


But in some industries, the global marketplace recognizes that its worth paying a little more for top-of-the-line products. One prime example? Wood. With over 347 million hectares of forest, Canada has 9% of the worlds forests. Between our resources and standards, this leads to top-quality products.


Natural resources are our superpower,” says Poirier.


Canada has been managing our forests sustainably and reseeding for decades which means that this is a profitable and renewable resource, making Canadian wood products more appealing than those coming from countries that are clear-cutting forests. There is a massive market for Canadian wood products, but the trouble for many is taking the first step into the uncertainty of the world of exporting.


When business owners dont know where to start when it comes to exporting, they talk to people they know: their bank, lawyer, accountant. They dont necessarily have the time to do the proper research into resources and supports,” explains Poirier. In a lot of SMEs, everyone is pulling double – or triple – duty. The CEO might also be the CFO and the Chief Moral Officer and might not have time to look into exporting even if it could help grow their business.”


So thats where CME comes in to help; they can direct businesses to the right supports and services to help companies enter the global marketplace with confidence. Additionally, they provide advocacy for their members at a national level, regularly communicating with the government to ensure the best possible conditions and opportunities for Canadian manufacturers and exporters.


Beginning to export products to the international market can be intimidating, but its a solid way to grow your business, particularly in the wood industry. To get started, do some research and reach out for support to ensure that you put your company puts its best foot forward.


Five Essential Exporting Resources:

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters is an association whose mission is to enable its members to compete successfully in Canada and internationally and ensure that public and policy-makers recognize manufacturing as an innovative and vital part of Canadas economy.


Trade Commissioner Service can help companies apply for funding, join trade missions, and learn how to export. They can also help with market research and understanding Canadas trade agreements, tariffs, and sanctions.


Export Development Canada offers financing and bonding solutions so that Canadian companies can compete in the global marketplace. They help businesses find their next market and reduce the risk of selling internationally so that local companies can grow their businesses. 


Canadian Commercial Corporation helps connect Canadian sellers to foreign government bid opportunities and move forward with international business deals. Partnering with the CCC means that a Government of Canada guarantee will back you.


Government of Canadas International trade and investment webpage for Exporting from Canada offers a step-by-step guide on the process and regulatory requirements for exporting commercial goods from Canada and support companies with existing technologies or products to explore opportunities in foreign markets.

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