This isn’t the end! It’s just the beginning | Canada Calling

Last month, Inverness Chamber of Commerce hosted its first virtual trade mission of the year. We were joined by nine inspiring Scottish businesses on our virtual trip to Ontario. The trade mission week has now finished, but the delegates’ relationships with their new Canadian connections are just beginning and we look forward to hearing the international success stories as these relationships grow over the coming months and years.

Trade missions are a great way for businesses to find out about the trading environment in another country, and to make links with agencies and businesses on the ground that can help them fully develop their potential to export. Virtual trade missions are particularly good for a company that is at the beginning of its exporting journey, or who want to test the possibility of engaging with a new territory, because representatives can take part from their own desk without the time or financial commitment of travel.

As the official programme of the virtual trade mission concludes it is a good time to reflect on its success. There are strong cultural, historical and economic links between Scotland and Canada and as the Scottish Government looks to strengthen its bonds with Canada, this is a good time to consider the opportunities that Canada can offer Scottish businesses.

Our mission supported nine Scottish companies who wanted to explore these opportunities.  During this cross-sector mission, we worked with several companies from sectors including Food & Drink, Life Science, Cosmetics, Retail, Tourism and Hospitality. We were delighted to work with many agencies and companies in Canada who helped us to facilitate a week-long programme of workshops. These sessions provided a great opportunity for our delegates to learn more about the Canadian market along with its legalities and tax implications and to participate in networking opportunities.

On the first day of our mission the delegates heard from Andrew Smith from the High Commission of Canada in London and from Jayesh Menon from the City of Brampton. While on day two, delegates heard from Nadine Oliver from Toronto Global.

These speakers gave an overview of the advantage of doing trade with Canada and with their respective cities, including support through incubator and accelerator schemes. Toronto and Brampton are both growing fast and have workforces educated to a high level, but which demand lower salaries than their US counterparts. They also stressed how well connected they are to the rest of the world, and their friendly and open nature – 51% of the Toronto population were born outside Canada.

On day three we heard from Dentons and RSM about the tax and legal regimes in Canada and what the delegates should look out for when they start to do business in the Canadian market.

In the morning of day four we heard from Scottish based representatives from SDI and the UK Department of Business and Trade. Both these organisations offer support to companies, who have international goals, through training courses, web-based resources and research. They also have staff based in Canada who are able to make links and foster contacts. 

Later on that day, we held a networking session which was probably the highlight of the week. With support from the British-Canadian Chamber it was attended by 14 Canadian businesses and agencies, including locally based SDI staff. The breakout sessions gave our delegates the opportunity to meet many of their Canadian counterparts.

Throughout the mission, it was encouraging to see our Scottish delegates maximising the opportunity, whilst showcasing all that Scotland has to offer prospective partners. We are already seeing valuable conversations emerging within Food and Drink, Life Science and Retail sectors, with many more potential collaborations in the pipeline.

We are delighted to have played a part in facilitating connections for our delegates including connections with Drinks Ontario, food and beauty product distributions networks, in bound tourism agencies for Scottish attractions and investment opportunities for our medical sector delegates. We look forward to seeing how these relationships progress.

Overall Inverness Chamber of Commerce facilitated over 20 connections with Canadian companies with more still to come.  Virtual trade missions are certainly a powerful way for businesses to explore international markets, find out about the trading environment in another country, make key connections and establish firm relationships with both stakeholders and potential customers.

To find out more about our international trade missions, or to keep up to date on similar missions please contact our International Trade Team:

Connecting Supporting Representing