By Kate Madley

Canada, the world’s second largest country, has six time zones, ten provinces, three territories, yet given its size, a relatively small population of around 35 million.

The UK is the biggest exporter to Canada from within the EU, and Wales’s eighth largest export destination, with £441m worth of goods sent to Canada in 2012.

Later this month, the Welsh Government will lead a multi-sector trade mission to Montreal, Canada’s second biggest city in terms of population and a key driver of the Canadian economy, with GDP growth for 2013 higher than the national average.

An affluent and high-tech industrial society, Canada offers businesses a number of trade opportunities across a range of sectors.

Cardiff-based international outsourced business development specialists, Fraser International, has worked closely with Canadian government bodies and businesses in the aerospace and defence sectors.

“When dealing with government bodies Welsh companies will experience a bit of déjà vu – everything is bi-lingual – but this time English and French,” explains Keith Waters, head of trade development at Fraser International.

“Companies need to consider French and English labelling. If your products are going to be sold in the Quebec region, bi-lingual labelling is compulsory. In most other parts of Canada labels in English are acceptable, however, nearly all labels on Canadian produced items contain some element of French, so it is worth doing this from the beginning.”

Canada is one of the world’s richest and developed countries, ranking among the top ten industrial powers and recognised as having one of the highest standards of living in the world. Despite Canada’s dominant trade relationship with its neighbour – approximately 75% of Canada’s exports are to the US – Canadian banks emerged from the financial crisis of 2008/09 among the strongest in the world.

“Canada and the US have an extensive mutual trade relationship, so competition from US businesses can be strong,” explains Jonathan Rees, UK managing director, Western Union Business Solutions.

Helping businesses to send and receive cross-border payments and manage foreign exchange, Western Union Business Solutions works with exporters globally, and in particular Welsh-based businesses exporting construction equipment and niche high-tech products to Canada.

“Welsh SMEs must look at all of the financial options that are available in order to tighten their books, such as forward and spot payments, and maintain a sharp competitive edge with their US counterparts,” says Mr Rees.

“The relative strength of the Canadian Dollar against Sterling has bolstered overseas sales from the UK, a pattern which we see echoed from our Welsh customers. We see a lot of opportunity for Welsh entrepreneurs to capitalise on strong overseas sales to Canada and the rest of the world.”

Key sectors identified ahead of the Welsh Government trade mission to Montreal are the life sciences, ICT and aerospace, which offer more than 200,000 jobs in the region. Montreal is home to some of the world’s leading brands in these sectors, such as IMB, Ericsson, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Rolls Royce and L3 Communications.

For full information on the trade mission to Montreal visit: https://business.wales.gov.uk/news-events/news/welsh-government-trade-missions.