The provincial government of Ontario recently published its global trade strategy, Seizing Global Opportunities, outlining actions to boost the province’s international trade performance over the next five years and help Ontario businesses diversify to benefit from the global economy.
Sounding a familiar alarm, the strategy document argues that more trade diversification is needed for Ontario’s future economic growth, warning that currently more than 80% of the province’s merchandise exports remain concentrated in the American market.
Moving towards a greater diversification of exports, “will assist in managing the economic and political shocks of being overly reliant on any one market and allow existing exporters to expand further into other international markets,” the paper says, adding that “Ontario companies must expand internationally to access new revenue streams and achieve long-term growth.”
Aiming to deepen Ontario’s footprint in key international markets and grow the province’s capacity to help businesses expand globally, the strategy document sets out the government’s four key priority areas to improve trade performance:
Leveraging Ontario’s international trade and investment assets
Introduce enhanced exporter preparation workshops and increase capacity of one-on-one advisory services for Ontario’s small and medium-sized businesses.
Leading through coordinating, convening and connecting
Implement a smart technology portal that will provide businesses with customized,one-window access to information and programs.
Driving better intelligence for stronger trade outcomes
Develop new research and intelligence-gathering partnerships while also building new trade metrics, databases and analysis to identify priority sectors and markets.
Building stronger networks and infrastructure
Research new and emerging technologies in international trade and identify e-commerce markets where Ontario companies are underrepresented and where opportunities exist.
Implementation of the trade strategy is “well underway,” the document boasts, citing a number of initiatives already being pursued by the province’s Ministry of International Trade, such as establishing “creative partnerships” with a wide range of organizations to access new data analytics, building awareness of the benefits of exporting through targeted marketing efforts, and launch of the province’s new “smart technology” portal, the first of its kind in Canada, which was developed with Ryerson University to provide businesses with customized, one-window access to export information and programs.
“Small businesses play a vital role in our province’s economy, and we are ensuring they have every opportunity to succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace. Ontario’s new Global Trade Strategy will help main street businesses and entrepreneurs scale up, grow and create good jobs in Ontario,” said Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister Responsible for Small Business.