TPP: Doing Business in Canada

June 2, 2016

Christopher Quinlivan is a Senior Commercial Officer at the International Trade Administration 

The United States and Canada share the world’s largest trading relationship.  The magnitude of the relationship is incredible, accounting for nearly $2 billion in cross border trade each day.  In fact, Canada is the top export market for 35 out of 50 states.  So whether your company is a first-time or seasoned exporter, Canada should be a key component of your overseas growth strategy.


USA and Canada flag

Such deep commercial ties make Canada an ideal “launch pad” for new exporters.  Why?  First, Canada is a highly receptive, open and transparent market for U.S. products and services, with Canadians spending more than 60 percent of their disposable income on U.S. goods and services.  Americans and Canadians “speak” the same language literally and figuratively.  In addition to French in some areas, English is almost universally spoken, making business communication a breeze.  We share a similar lifestyle, engendering a certain level of cultural familiarity.  Finally, close geographic proximity, and initiatives between our governments such as Beyond the Border, Regulatory Cooperation Council and Trusted Traveler make cross-border business increasingly seamless.

These factors are strengthened by new and existing trade agreements which ensure that companies on both sides of the border are able to enjoy robust business relationships.  Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, trade between our two counties has more than doubled.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would further expand business opportunities in key sectors (i.e. automotive, chemicals, machinery, and consumer goods) for both our countries, while also enhancing IP protections, deepening regulatory coherence as well as promoting common rules of origin and customs procedures.  The TPP agreement also provides new markets for U.S. and Canadian exporters in the booming Asia-Pacific region.  The 12 countries in the TPP account for 40 percent of global GDP, presenting unprecedented opportunities for our companies. See our newly released TPP country report here for more details.

The ease of doing business in Canada attracts many U.S. exporters, yet the country’s subtle but important differences from the United States can trip up the unprepared.  U.S. exporters must understand provincial regulations, conduct due diligence on market potential, sales channels, labeling and packaging requirements, certification standards, and customs procedures, and educate themselves on unique industry matters relevant to selling their goods or services in Canada.

The great news is that our friendly neighbor Canada is a market where U.S. products and services compete well, and it should not be overlooked by any company looking to expand sales.  U.S. Commercial Service teams at the Embassy in Ottawa and consulates in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary are positioned to support your company throughout Canada, from market exploration to execution.  We look forward to seeing your company join the ranks of the 95,000 U.S. companies that export to Canada every year!



%d bloggers like this: