Emiliano has close to two decades of experience working with manufacturers and exporters looking to increase their global growth by providing them with support and guidance in all things export. His strategy not only focuses on navigating companies through the complexities of global supply chains but also in the small details that can make or break an international trade transaction. Emiliano is one of the Export Help Advisors at Export Development Canada (EDC).
As an Export Help Advisor at EDC, what can you tell us about some of the challenges that entrepreneurs face when it comes to exporting their products?
One of the challenges most entrepreneurs face is a lack of research. There are so many countries where their product might be worth selling, that choosing the right market might be a daunting task. At our Export Help Desk we get questions such as where should I export my product?; and although we can point you in the right direction to resources of trade data and market research, I’ll always ask if they have prepared an export plan yet. An export plan helps answer that very important challenging question, as it takes you to a process of validating where products or services can be sold and allows you to understand what type of financial resources you might need if, for example, your product has to be modified for a particular market.
You provide support and guidance to manufacturers and exporters when it comes to helping them increase their global growth. What can you tell us about some of the strategies you use to help them?
When helping companies, it is important to understand how each company operates, what their potential plans are, and what they are hoping to gain from expanding their operations. It is also important to know if all stakeholders are on board for going global. It’s not unusual to see a sales manager trying to grow the business, only to be faced with management not wanting to do the right financial investment to get there. For example, some companies have great products that are sold in Canada, but that they might need modifications if the product is to be sold overseas. Those modifications or adaptations to the products not only cost money but also take on research and development time, which can be quite costly. If the team tasked to build new trade opportunities does not receive the green light from management, then it will be very difficult for companies to move on.
My advice is to get everyone on the same page and to ensure that you have full commitment from management. This is when having that export plan can help inform all stakeholders.
What are some of the services and resources that EDC offers to manufacturers to help them succeed in the global market?
EDC assists Canadian exporters to succeed abroad by providing financial and insurance solutions. But we also provide you with export knowledge. One of the best places to start your research is our TradeInsights page. Through this easy to the search tool, you can find resources that are based on industry & regions. You can find eBooks, exporter guides, on-demand webinars, blog posts, and articles, that cover different areas that provide Canadian manufacturers of knowledge to help them succeed.
EDC also has some digital tools that our in-house developers built to help exporters get answers to their trade-related questions. One of the tools is the Export Help Hub, which is a curated list from the Export Help Team of the most requested questions. If an exporter is looking for a shipping company, they can use EDC InList, to search a worldwide database of freight forwarders. Another great tool for new exporters to use is EDC Company Insight which guides users on how to properly vet international businesses. Through this tool, you can get access to the business registries and resources that EDC uses when evaluating a new customer, distributor or partner.
EDC also has an economics team that publishes different resources throughout the year, so that companies can analyze markets with ease. For example, one of their most accessed publications on our website is the Global Export Forecast.
In your expert opinion, do you believe that Canadian companies are well-positioned to export in the foreign market compared to other countries in the world?
In Canada, we tend to be very open to the fact that companies should export their products or services. Because of that, government services that help exports have a lot of resources available at the disposal of companies. There are programs such as the Trade Accelerator, provincial and federal support, and also in-market government representatives such as the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) that can help your company connect with potential buyers overseas.
Having the Canada brand behind your product places your organization ahead of many other markets that are seeking the high-quality products and services that Canadian companies have to offer.
What are some of the small details that you believe manufacturers and exporters should focus on that can help them achieve a successful international trade transaction?
This is best explained through examples. Think of a particular clause in a contract that might make or break a business transaction. What if the contract used the wrong currency? Selecting the wrong Incoterm, which are trade terms internationally recognized, can bring unexpected risks and costs that were not accounted in the original transaction. In many instances, I’ve seen the wrong place of delivery in the documentation that was never updated by a customer. Incomplete documentation or permits when exporting can lead to delays. Misclassifying your goods with the wrong harmonized Not mitigating risks such as financial or commercial risks can potentially affect your cash flow and most importantly, your profit margins. Many companies operate without accounts receivable insurance, which means that if their clients don’t pay, profit and cost of producing those goods evaporates. Looking at every step of an international trade transaction is as important as ensuring the quality of your products and services.
With over two decades of experience in the export industry, you are somewhat of an expert when it comes to providing support and guidance to manufacturers and exporters. What is the number one advice you can give them to help them succeed in the global market?
More and more I believe that research is your number one tool to be successful in the global market. Being properly informed of the trade regulations, customs procedures and export processes is extremely important. If your organization researches ahead of time, it will be able to identify potential risks and gaps. And once those are identified, your company can work with the right partners to mitigate them and help them be successful internationally.
As an example, if a company finds out that they do not have the logistics experience in-house, then they can partner up with a freight forwarder and a customs broker that can help them fill in that gap. Not all of the tasks need to be done in-house, and whenever the situation requires outsourcing, then this is ok.
If your current accountant does not have expertise in taxes in the US for example, you and your accountant can get help from an expert company by outsourcing that particular part of tax compliance to an expert. The one rule of outsourcing to go by is, that if the business process costs less to the organization and it is more efficiently done by a company or individual outside of the organization, then outsourcing that task is more than ok. This is especially true when a new company requires assistance in expertise that they do not possess at that moment.
What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed in Canada’s export industry over the last two decades that’s impacted Canadian businesses?
Companies are more likely to think about exports now that the government has been promoting the many free trade agreements or FTAs it currently has in place.
Canada is the only country in the G7, to have a free trade agreement with each of the G7 member countries. This is also a good indication at which potential markets companies can look for expansion.
If a Canadian company has a product that can be exported to one of the countries where Canada has an FTA, this is a no brainer, of course, only if the market research shows that the product or service is a good fit for the market. FTAs help reduce trade barriers, open the market to millions of potential consumers and allow companies to grow.
New companies are more open to thinking exports from the get-go, especially if they offer a service that can be exported with minimum modifications.
On a final note, how do you predict the next 5 years of Canada’s export industry?
I think that most Canadian exporters are looking at expanding to new markets. If a company is currently not exporting, my hope is that it will be in the next 5 years. If an organization is already exporting to one or two markets, in the next 5 years they should export to double or triple their current markets. Canada is also becoming a hub for tech companies and I believe that we are going to see more and more service exports coming from Canada than any other country in the world. I also think that a lot of companies are looking at this export ecosystem as supportive and more integrated, and it is my hope that municipal, provincial and the federal government continue to produce programs that encourage companies to look at international expansion to bring Canada to the world. If Canadian companies succeed, all Canadians succeed.