On Jan. 5, 2016, the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Small Business and Tourism announced a new program, CanExport, that will provide $50 million over the next five years to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada take advantage of global export opportunities.

CanExport is part of the new government’s export strategy: to assist Canadian companies in taking advantage of opportunities abroad and increase their competitiveness, while building jobs and growth at home.

Under the program, the federal government will reimburse up to 50% of any spending between $10,000 and $99,999 per project by companies seeking to expand their overseas trade up to $99,999 per year. To be eligible, companies must employ fewer than 250 employees and have annual revenue in Canada of between $200,000 and $50 million. Eligible activities must promote export development and go beyond an applicant’s core activities, as well as represent new or expanded initiatives. Reimbursements can be sought for various activities and expenses, including travel, participation at trade fairs, market research, adaptation of marketing tools for new markets and legal fees associated with distribution and representation agreements.

This program provides an excellent opportunity for Alberta-based oil and gas service and equipment companies to expand their operations abroad. Canadian companies new to international markets, will need to be conscious of existing Canadian export controls and customs requirements, sanctions regimes, business integrity risks and corporate social responsibility requirements. Proper advance planning and appropriate due diligence are important to success in international trade. 

Members of Gowlings’ Energy, Government Affairs, and International Trade teams can assist companies seeking to take advantage of this new opportunity by providing guidance on the CanExport program, advising on a company’s eligibility under the program, preparing an application and managing the assessment process with Global Affairs Canada. Gowlings can also provide practical, business-focused advice on international contracts and distribution agreements, export regimes and customs requirements as well as current sanctions limitations and perform due diligence on a new proposed partner and conduct a country risk analysis in a new market.