A ROBUST AND VARIED TRADE RELATIONSHIP
The U.S. and Canada enjoy the world’s largest and most comprehensive trading relationship, with approximately $2 billion in goods and services crossing the border between the two countries daily. Canada is a highly receptive, open and transparent market for U.S. products and services. In 2021, Wisconsin exports to Canada exceeded the total Wisconsin exports to Mexico, China, Germany, Brazil and the United Kingdom (the next five leading destinations) combined.
Due to its geographic proximity and cultural similarity to the U.S., as well as a common language and a high level of existing cross-border trade, Canada is a strong opportunity market for Wisconsin companies across all sectors. Canada is the largest export market for U.S.-produced goods ($308 billion in 2021) and for goods produced in Wisconsin ($7.5 billion in 2021).
The U.S. and Canada also share a historically stable trade relationship. In 2020, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement took effect, resulting in what the U.S. Department of Commerce calls “freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth across North America.” The agreement also helps clarify cross-border e-commerce transactions, providing Wisconsin businesses with opportunities to sell via their e-commerce platforms to Canadian customers.
In March 2023, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will be leading a Global Trade Venture to Canada. Wisconsin companies, whether new to exporting or looking to expand their exports into Canada, are invited to participate in this program. The cities included in the program, Toronto and Montreal, were chosen because of their markets’ strategic importance for Wisconsin companies. Exporting is a must for any company seeking to grow; Wisconsin companies across all sectors are encouraged to consider participating in this Global Trade Venture.
In each city, participants will be scheduled for customized one-on-one meetings with prospective partners in the market. These partners are chosen specifically for each participating company based on the company’s business needs and objectives. Each participant in the Global Trade Venture will also receive market intelligence specific to their company, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing the company’s product or service into the Canadian market. WEDC has eyes and ears on the ground in Canada in the form of an authorized trade representative—thus making it easier for Wisconsin companies to find local partners they can trust, and taking some of the guesswork out of launching in a new market. Traveling as part of a trade venture also provides the opportunity for peer-to-peer networking and sharing of experiences and business connections among participants.
The Canadian economy is a highly developed, mixed economy. Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with a high standard of living and excellent quality of life. Canada is the eighth-largest global economy based on nominal GDP, and bounced back to 5.6% growth in 2021 after contracting in 2020 with the pandemic.
The greater Toronto area, which is a part of the highly integrated Great Lakes distribution and production network, is a rich and diversified economy. Ontario is the largest provincial economy in Canada, accounting for nearly 40% of the nation’s total GDP.
The Quebec provincial economy is highly diversified and innovative, with abundant natural resources and energy, as well as strong agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors. Its economy is the second-largest in Canada, accounting for roughly one-fifth of national GDP. Though it is not the province’s capital, Montreal has developed into its economic center.
As a large, advanced economy with well-developed infrastructure, Canada is an ideal first market for new-to-export companies as well as those seeking to further expand their business and distribution networks in country. Canada is a market that seeks innovative, advanced technology product and service solutions—so whether a company is a first-time or seasoned exporter, Canada should be a key component of its export growth strategy. In Canada, Wisconsin companies will find a friendly market with many potential buyers for their products and services, especially if their offerings have a demonstrable value proposition that distinguishes them from other products and services already in the market.
While companies from many different industries will find opportunities in Canada, companies from the following sectors are especially encouraged to attend:
- Clean technology. In 2021, the Government of Canada enacted climate change legislation committing to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, creating demand for zero-emissions vehicles, batteries and charging stations. With increased electricity use and an electric vehicle mandate, it’s anticipated that electricity requirements will either double or triple, creating opportunities for smart grid systems, electrified public transportation and energy conservation technologies for buildings. Green infrastructure upgrades are also a priority, with the federal government committing to spend $180 billion over the next 12 years on public transit, ports, broadband networks, energy systems, social infrastructure and natural spaces. Announced in March, the Canadian government’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan is expected to dramatically increase the pressure on the oil and gas industry to cut emissions by 42% by 2030 and to encourage more rapid change in Canadians’ driving habits.
- Mining and related technologies. Canada’s mining industry is emerging as one of the brightest growth spots in the zero-emissions future. The industry is undergoing a significant technological transformation, using more robotics and electric machines. The list of products needed is extensive: drilling and blasting equipment, bolters, borers, scoops, haulers, personnel carriers and cement throwers, among other items. The Government of Canada is also working on a critical minerals strategy, which focuses on six areas: (1) driving research, innovation and exploration; (2) accelerating project development; (3) building sustainable infrastructure; (4) advancing Indigenous reconciliation; (5) growing a diverse workforce and prosperous communities; and (6) strengthening global leadership and security.
- Automation. Pandemic-related labor shortages have already caused an increase in automation in numerous sectors. Some reports show that automation will be concentrated in a few key industries in the next few years, including accommodation and food services, retail, construction, and health care. Ontario is home to Canada’s largest concentration of robotics and automation firms, with just over 350 companies—a list that includes Autodesk, Siemens and Rockwell Automation. These firms have developed advanced technologies including surgical robots, optical imaging solutions, autonomous warehouse solutions and other technologies spanning a multitude of industries.
- Sustainability for consumer packaged goods, both food and non-food. Canadian shoppers are concerned about excessive packaging, with many choosing to avoid plastic. A number of municipal or provincial bans on single-use plastics and shopping bags are already in effect, and the Government of Canada recently announced it is making good on its pre-pandemic promise to ban environmentally harmful single-use plastics.