Exporters or Support Agencies

Ready To Export 

On this page you will find Assessing Your Export Readiness, Guide to Exporting, Export Planning, Participating in Trade Event and Further Resources.

Having determined that you are ready to export (through the Export Readiness Quiz), the next step is to begin your export planning. When your company decides to look towards foreign markets for selling your product(s) you need to make an Export.

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Selling goods and services to another country is about more than just knowing who the buyers are. Successful exporting requires time, resources and knowledge to prepare your products and your staff for a foreign marketplace, to identify specific opportunities, and to maximize the potential of a successful venture.

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When your company decides to look towards foreign markets for selling your product(s) you need to make an Export Plan. The Export Plan is basically a Business Plan with an international market focus (specifically, the target market(s) you have selected). The Exporter Plan describes the company’s target market(s) in detail, clarifies your export goals, activities and objectives, and determines the resources necessary to achieve your anticipated positive results.

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As a key tool for export success an export plan needs to include clear set of directions to identify every step of the process. In this section you will find a suggested format for an export plan.

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Market Entry

Labelling and Language Requirements

The Competition Bureau’s Guide to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations outlines Canadian requirements for labelling of all products sold in Canada. All labels are prohibited from making false or misleading representations of a product. Mandatory label requirements include: product identity, product net quantity and dealer’s name and principal place of business. This mandatory information must be provided in both English and French for products sold anywhere in Canada. Some information may not need to be listed in both languages, such as the dealer’s name and address.


Food Labelling

Food products are subject to additional labelling requirements in Canada. CFIA offers a Food Labelling Tool for Industry and Labelling Requirements Checklist to better understand these requirements. Core Labelling Requirements must be provided in French and English and include: common name, country of origin, date markings and storage instructions, identity and principal place of business, irradiated foods, legibility and locations, list of ingredients and allergens, net quantity, nutrition labelling and sweeteners. CFIA also offers guidance on claims and statements (e.g., allergens, gluten-free, health claims, organic) as well as food-specific requirements for certain products (e.g., alcohol, chocolate/cocoa, fats and oils, fish/seafood, fresh produce, honey, meat/poultry, processed foods). For example, all packaged foods must include a Nutrition Facts Table.


Exporting Directly or Indirectly

Exporters to Canada must decide whether to export directly to an importer, distributor or retailer in Canada, or indirectly through intermediaries such as distributors, brokers and agents or trading houses. Each option has pros and cons. In general, if you are new to the Canadian market you will probably want to form a partnership with intermediaries at home or in Canada. These intermediaries are familiar with the Canadian market and for a fee will work with you to represent and sell your products to buyers in Canada. If you have more experience, you may choose to export directly to buyers, including retailers and consumers.

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Main Entry Doors to Canada

Given the large size of Canada, it is common practice for exporters to consolidate shipments to the country’s three primary consumer markets. For most new exporters, the main entry doors to Canada are Ontario and Quebec, while exporters from Asia may wish to target Vancouver in British Columbia due to its geographic proximity (although increasingly Asian goods are shipped to an eastern Atlantic port). Major distribution hubs for intra-Canadian trade are Toronto (covering Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada), Montréal (covering Quebec, Atlantic Canada and Ontario) and Vancouver (covering British Colombia, Alberta, the Prairies and the Territories).

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Packaging Requirements

The Competition Bureau’s Guide to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations outlines requirements for packaging of all products sold in Canada. Packages must be filled, displayed and designed in a way that does not mislead consumers about the quality or quantity of the products inside. Certain products must also be shipped in standardized container sizes, including: wine, peanut butter, glucose syrup and refined sugar syrup. Good quality packaging facilitates handling, transportation and disposal. Before making any large shipments, you should send samples of your packaging to your buyer to ensure the design, size and materials conform to Canadian laws and regulations, and to the requirements of your buyer.. It is cheaper and easier to change a packaging design in your country than in Canada.

Packaging Trends

Offering an attractive design or innovative packaging is one way to increase the interest of potential buyers in carrying your product. One of the major trends in recent years is eco-friendly packaging, including materials that are renewably sourced, biodegradable and recyclable. Manufacturers are also reducing the amount and size of packaging to reduce the environmental footprint of their products. Convenient, single-serve food packaging is a hot trend in the Canadian market. The packaging of new or unfamiliar food products should also include a description of how consumers can prepare or use the item, as well as recipes and conversion rates for substitutions. More information on trends is available through Canadian Packaging magazine.

Standards for practices, technical requirements and product specifications are increasingly important in global trade. In Canada, importers are legally liable for defective products.

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Tariff Determination Importers must provide CBSA with a detailed description of goods (based on information from the supplier), including the ten-digit HS code, value and origin. CBSA will help determine the rates of duty based on the appropriate valuation method, classification and tariff treatment.

Canadian Tariffs

Exports into Canada

International Trade Agreements


Market Research

The goal of market research is to identify the market best suited to your export endeavours (the target market) and to increase your understanding of this market in order to enable you to enter it most effectively for long-term success. Market research allows you to determine that an opportunity exists and minimizes the risk of going after it by uncovering and identifying potential problems. It helps you to gauge the market characteristics in relation to your products and plans, and to learn how a new market can be developed.

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Success Stories

Testimonial Success Story
Jeilo Collection: Reducing Textile Waste In The Fashion And Textile Sector
JEILO Collections is a social enterprise created in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya, by founder Grace Mbugua. Over the years, it expanded to include a profit-making subsidiary called the Jeilo Leather Company to sell the leather goods it makes. Jeilo has 22 employees - 11 men and 11 women.
Testimonial Success Story
Women at the forefront of manufacturing
Surianti Ang is the director and owner of Queen Pacific Suksesabadi, a trading and shoe manufacturing company based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The company was established in 2007 as a trading company; in 2011, they started manufacturing sandals, flip flops and other types of shoes. Queen Pacific has been successfully operating since 2007, making sales to name brands such as Michael Kors, Hush Puppies, Bata worldwide. Since 2014 the company has been exporting to Peru, Kenya, the USA and Asia pacific with dreams of reaching even further.Queen Pacific’s success is no simple formula; however, the founder prides herself on the fact that women are big part of the operations in her company. “Aside from it being a woman-owned company, the presence of women can be felt everywhere from production to management.”  Queen Pacific employs and works with 60% of women. Surianti states, “I prefer working with women in manufacturing, and at the office, women more active and careful, and they don’t give up easily. The women in my company are very hard working. Don’t get me wrong, we do employ men, and their presence is appreciated, but women are really what keeps PT Queen Pacific moving and propelling into the future.”In 2019 Queen Pacific received the Primaniyarta award; the highest award given by the Government of Indonesia to exporters that have made tremendous achievements in the export sector. The award is given by the Government of Indonesia through the Directorate General of National Export Development. This was a big accomplishment for Queen Pacific as a woman owned exporter competing with big multinational companies in the same sector. “We have stiff competition from both China and Vietnam; so, our priority is to set ourselves apart. To do so, we focus on producing a good quality product. Therefore, teamwork is important to us, a strong and good team creates a strong and good product, but to do that, we have to make sure our employees are in a good work environment and feel like a family. Ultimately having a good team and strong team- which for me includes many women- means that we all succeed, especially the company and the brand”.  “The COVID-19 pandemic really impacted the manufacturing.” Part of the measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus meant many companies had to close completely or enforce social distancing measures, resulting in reduced production. “Since I started doing business, I have always prepared for the worst-case scenario, whether a natural disaster or a loss of a customer. We have always set aside funds so that our company can survive for two years. In this time, we would adjust to the market and try to recover losses. So I guess in a way, when the pandemic occurred, we were slightly prepared. We can’t just wait for the pandemic to pass but what we can do is begin to adjust to the existing conditions and work around this new order.”“What I want to see for Queen Pacific is that we survive these challenging times. My company is like a family, and they have families.  The pandemic was also a wake-up call. I have been producing fashion items, but now I want to focus on merging fashion with supporting local communities around me even further. 
Testimonial Success Story
Where Tradition and the Environment Meet
Djiguiyaso- which means “house of hope” in the Malian language Bambara-  is a cooperative  established in Mali in 2004. It specializes in textiles often made using traditional methods and environmentally friendly dyes, creating a product that is distinctly Malian. Aïssata Namoko is the founder of Djiguyaso and has worked in the sector for 60 years along with her family members. From the age of 6  she learned about Malian textiles from her mother who used to be a weaver. This intergenerational practice of textile production is essential for passing down traditional knowledge and led Aïssata to establish Djiguyaso. Diguyaso offers the world quintessential Malian textiles that are turned into homeware, home décor, apparel and accessories. In 2004 the cooperative started out with 10 women, and now it works with over 100 local women and 24 men. Over the years Aïssata has provided training to women and men in her community on dying, spinning, cutting, sewing, crocheting, weaving, and product finishing.  “I was pushed by my passion for textiles and sewing; I learned these skills from my mother as a child. The most exciting thing about what I do is the dying process especially using indigo dye”. Indigo is a plant grown in Mali whose leaves are used to colour textiles. The leaves are plucked and dried for several days, then crushed into a powder. The powder is used as the primary ingredient in creating different hues of blues. The powder is mixed with water and sometimes potash (mined salts that contain potassium) is thrown into the mix  to create different variants of blue. This process takes approximately two weeks to one month to achieve the right colour mixture. “This method of dying and creating textile patterns have existed in Mali for over three thousand years, this really sets us apart from a lot of our competitors since we use traditional methods to create the finalized product.” Aïssata started to export globally with the support of TFO Canada. In 2007, TFO Canada staff connected with designers from Mali and 4 other countries for “Design Africa” and that’s how Aïssata came to be part of the TFO Canada umbrella. That year, she attended a leading home décor trade show, Salon International de Décoration et d’Intérieur de Montréal (SIDIM).  “Design Africa” was funded by many donors and sponsors including the Canadian Government through the Program for Building African Capacity in Trade (PACT) and provided training on accessing the Canadian and foreign markets as well as support to attend SIDIM.  At the show she met many North American buyers such as Aid for Artisans and made plenty of sales. One big order came from a buyer in Europe for 800 large textile cloths. This changed the course of Djiguyaso and opened the door to the European market.  In 2010, Djiguyaso was recognized by UNESCO for its use of traditional techniques and its community development initiatives. “This year has been a hard year for the handmade goods sector, but what I hope is to keep the cooperative moving forward. Through the cooperative, we’ve created a centre for youth, and we focus on training them in the crafts, dying, crocheting and sewing so they can take over in the future. Its important to keep passing down this traditional knowledge and methods of dying, its part of Malian history and culture. We want to motivate the youth, to be interested in the crafts, and promote Mali’s tradition and artisan work all over the world. We also built a water pit for the community so that women can have access to clean water.  We do our best to ensure that our members are being paid fair wages so they can raise their families and satisfy their needs. So much of this success is in part due to the partnerships we made in 2007 at the SIDIM show with the help of TFO Canada”.    
Testimonial Success Story
Mambo Studios: Growing online
Juan Manuel Duque is the CEO of Mambo studios which has been exporting services out of Colombia for the last 7 years. Mambo studios is a creative service that creates and produces advertising for corporations including animations, videos, graphics, motion graphics and innovative services.Like many places in the world, Colombia underwent lock down procedures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  While this presented itself as a challenge for many SMEs, Mambo Studios have been fortunate enough to continue business. “It’s one of the benefits of being a service provider that works mainly online. The lock down has to some extent affected our clientele in Colombia, however overseas we still have work from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico”. “Prior to the lock down we had clients mainly from the United States and Panama, we always wanted to tap into other international markets and Canada seemed like a great opportunity. Through ProColombia Mambo studios was introduced to TFO Canada and the Gateway to Trade program in 2018. Through this program we received training sessions in Colombia about the Canadian market and client base. From there on, out of the 40 companies that attended the training, we were one of 14 to be selected to come to Toronto to attend B2B meetings and meet potential clients. This was a great opportunity because we had scouted out a production company called Double Barrel that fit the profile of services we offer. Through TFO Canada we managed to arrange meetings with them and from there Double Barrel became a partner.  The second part of the program was bringing Canadian buyers to Colombia, when Double Barrel came to Colombia, we brought them to Cali to visit our offices and signed an MoU”.  “Since signing our MoU, we’ve worked together on projects for multiple clients, including Deloitte & the Department of Defence".Colombia is known for its service industry, but what sets Mambo studios apart from everyone is their ability to fill in the “cultural gap”. “At Mambo studios we are able to relate culturally with the markets we work with. We understand the cultural values that each country has which allows us to adapt our content and understand of what will and won’t work for clients when we make proposals. There is a lot of companies that provides services like ours but 7 years of learning and understanding the cultures and countries we work with has really set us apart from our competitors”. During these times, many businesses have suffered losses. However, E-commerce has proven to be a powerful tool for some. Here are some Mambo Studio’s tips for companies that aren’t able to go back to their offices or work at full capacity:  Ideally try to produce content that does not involve moving people. An example is If you must do trainings make animated training materials, they are easy to share and distribute and can be accessible for everyone. Start exploring animated content (it’s very relevant right now) and moving things online. You can sell yourself or your services online through a website, you can make a video at home or create animations about your products or services, this way you can reach far bigger audience from all corners of the world. Using a video to explain what you are selling allows you to have a good online presence. If you can afford it try creating a Virtual Reality or an Augmented reality experience. Virtual reality is good for people in the environment or tourism sectors where you can create virtual experiences for the services you offer. Augmented reality is good for people who sell products an example is using the Nike App to see what a shoe will look like on you. Using these types of online tools will help exporters bring a different experience to everyone. “Overall, my hope for the future is that Mambo studios is to create more partnerships in different parts of the world. We want to create an international network of partnerships that will allow us to redevelop our content and grow as a business”. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mambostudio.tv/Instagram: @mambostudio.tvLinkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mambostudio  
Testimonial Success Story
Crafting Hope
Aling Nur Naluri Widianti is the founder of Salam Rancage a not for profit social enterprise that supports local women in Borgor, Indonesia, by providing them with trainings on how to produce handicrafts made from locally recycled materials. Salam Rancage sell their handmade craft online at www.salamrancage.com; locally as well as to buyers from all over the world. Under the project Canadian Market Access and Capacity Building Services and Canada Indonesia Trade and Private Sector Assistance projects, Aling received online trainings, attended workshops on Exporting to Canada since 2014. According to Aling “,“Since 2014 I have received support from TFO Canada who have aided in the development of Salam Rancage. Through TFO Canada I learned to connect with buyers and exporters as a businesswoman,. Learning about the Canadian and International export market, gives me an advantage in understanding the market and how to target items and export strategies. I also learned a lot on how to improve my business model and better target buyers. Before Aling became an entrepreneur, and a bold figure in her community supporting in the environmental and social development of Bogor; In her community there were many challenges Aling was deeply affected by this and wanted to support her community in finding sustainable solutions that would support the families as well as keep the community of Bogor clean. Upon discussion with her friends they decided that the best way to financially support the community and keep it clean would be to start a social business with a full staff of women.Together Aling and a the women from the community have started an open farm, a community cleaning project, empowering the local women with village associations led by the women in the community, starting a zero waste market, increasing the income of the community and overall making her community more “green and clean”.Aling’s business not only stimulates the economy, but it puts women and the environment first. Her hopes for the future is to continue to inspire women all over Indonesia, “ I want to inspire them to create something for themselves and their communitiesI want to thank TFO Canada team for their support and motivation. Keep up the good work and thank you for your continuous encouragement”.
Testimonial Success Story
Cambodian women’s social enterprise’s success through trade and development
Villageworks Cambodia Company Limited (Villageworks) mandate embodies Agenda2030 beautifully as their activities cover a number of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) specifically SDGs 5, 8, 10 and 12. The organization is unique due to its ability to incorporate environmental sustainability and a practical design. Working with rubbish collectors Villageworks recycles waste materials-- like cement bags and fishnets -- to make new products. Their business model informs their slogan "from trash to treasure".Villageworks is a social enterprise focused on creating sustainable job opportunities for women who live in rural Cambodia. Established in 2001 as a social enterprise, Villageworks quickly realized their products have international market appeal, and as a result changed its corporate status to an export company in 2008. Norm Bunnak is the director of Villageworks and oversees production, design and the day to day interactions with the women at the organization."VillageWorks is not just a social enterprise, we provide training, life skills and permanent employment to vulnerable women in Cambodia. We work with disabled women as well as women in rural areas to present them with new opportunities, fair wages and reduce the risks of trafficking." - BunnakCapitalizing on the Canadian Market Access Initiative that grants low income countries with duty free and quota free access to the Canadian market, TFO Canada created Artisan Hub- a program that supported producers and artisans from Least Developed Countries to access the Canadian Market. The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce identified VillageWorks as an organization that would benefit from TFO Canada's services and becoming part of Artisan Hub.Through Artisan Hub Villageworks participated in Apparel Textile Sourcing Canada in Toronto in 2016 and New York Now in 2018. To get the most out of the trade shows, they received training and advice on product design and participated in webinars offered by TFO Canada on the Canadian marketTheir first exposure to the Canadian Market and understanding buyer requirements and consumer demands influenced product redesign including making them resistant to the changeable Canadian weather.Since connecting with buyers in Toronto and New York Villageworks has been exporting through wholesale distributers in Canada and United States. They also landed an order with Sephora and through this collaboration reduced their use of plastic instead increasing production of cotton bags."TFO Canada connected us to buyers, helped us understand the market and help resolve issues beforehand, by providing trainings and webinars on market access and readiness."Villageworks aspires to continue growing, expanding their market and production base, and most importantly recruiting more women and therefore creating a broader economic impact in their communities.And perhaps the most visible indicator of success according to Bunnak, "In the future we would like to see more Canadians wearing Cambodian items like silk scarves and our bags made of recycled materials."  
Testimonial Success Story
Online matchmaking results in beneficial Dominican Exporter-Canadian Importer connection
As Elliot Ortiz Vasquez drives from his company’s farm in Miches, Dominican Republic to its packing house in Bani to finalize paperwork for a shipment of sweet potatoes destined for Canada, he is happy with the decision he and his partner made to go global with their produce business. In 2014 Eliot Ortiz and his partner Ysidra Vasquez Sanchez, his mother, decided to diversify Ely Import R Export SRL sales through exporting.  They believed that while blood, sweat and tears was involved in the process the anticipated future sales made it worthwhile for the company they started in 2012.In December 2017, Eliot received an email from Canadian importer Kiskadee who had found Ely Import through TFO Canada’s online supplier database while searching for a supplier of sweet potatoes and the rest is history! In January 2018 the company’s first export sales to Canada came from this connection – to date the company has exported 450 boxes of sweet potatoes as well as mangoes, avocadoes and hot peppers. The relationship between both companies grew beyond just supplying goods. Eliot receives continuous advice and mentoring on product labelling and appearance, product classification, and most importantly market traceability.The relationship enhanced Eliot’s knowledge of food regulations and in turn increased the quality of his products. Eliot’s success benefits not only the company but also several communities that are a part of its supply chain.The company has 30 employees, of which 20 are women, and also has a network of farmers across the island that supply it with different fruits and vegetables. The network includes avocadoes suppliers from farms in Ocao, Azua and Barahona; mangoes from farms near Bani and Ocoa; hot peppers from farms in Iqua and San Francisco; and from the company’s farm in breadfruit, yams, sweet potatoes and cocoa beans among others. The company’s philosophy is to hire persons in the community they operate, train them (especially youths), provides end of year bonuses and provide employment opportunities for youths. This model works for the farmers as the company guarantees sales of their crops.Eliot is thrilled with his export experience to date. “As a producer we are always seeking new international markets for our produce… CEI-RD and TFO Canada provided our company with up-to-date Canadian market access information which gave our company a competitive advantage. The trade missions and B2B meetings we participated in propelled us to continuously pursue the Canadian market.”You can learn more about Eliot and his company by watching this video.
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