With two free trade agreements that promise to open new markets and create opportunities for Quebec businesses, many businesses are evaluating (or re-evaluating) the possibility of exporting their goods and services abroad. However, such an approach requires meticulous preparation, research and planning in order to be successful. And for this, businesses can count on the knowledge and expertise of many resources in the province.
In addition to Export Development Canada, there are many private and public organizations that offer services for Quebec exporters, whether it is to guide them in their choice of target markets, to act as facilitators for the development of new business partnerships, to champion business needs or to finance international marketing projects. Here are ten resources to get to know:
To obtain the required capital
The process of becoming an exporter doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of planning, and obviously, capital. Investissement Québec (IQ), a well-known organization in the province, has programs to support businesses that want to market their products and services abroad. For example, IQ can finance up to 100% of the expenses for travel abroad, participation in trade shows, costs related to business development, marketing and upgrading to a standard required by the target countries. IQ also offers a tax credit to manufacturing firms that apply.
A division of the Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation, Export Québec offers many services to Quebec businesses to help them cut down on export-related delays, costs and risks. Export Québec has a large network of international business specialists based both in Quebec and elsewhere. Its Programme Exportation also allows eligible businesses to obtain financing for expenditures such as the hiring of an exporting specialist, research on markets or the process of setting up business, a business development mission and more.
The new InnovExport fund
Last March 17, the Quebec government announced the creation of a new technology start-up fund with a capitalization of $30 million. Made possible thanks to a partnership with the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Fondaction, Ville de Québec and a group of private investors, the goal of InnovExport is to support the start-up of more than 50 innovative Quebec business projects aiming for export markets. To be eligible, start-up businesses should be accompanied by a business incubator or accelerator.
A federal Crown corporation, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is the only financial institution dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs. BDC offers free services and guidance for all lines of business and at all stages of development from its business centres across Quebec. With a mission to help create and develop strong businesses all over the country, BDC offers financing assistance as well as advisory services, in particular for exports, from planning the approach to managing sales.
To penetrate the Northeastern US
As Quebec’s largest trading partner, the United States most certainly represents a key market for our exporters. That is why the COREX export corridors program from the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ) makes tools available to businesses to support their international development. Thanks to its trade corridors, the FCCQ covers the seven Northeastern US states that receive more than a third of Quebec’s exports to the United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York State, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The FCCQ offers Quebec exporters specific information on each of its corridors, as well as the opportunity to take advantage of its large network of contacts, including the chambers of commerce in each region.
For international markets
With a network of more than 65 experts dedicated to supporting SMEs in the development of their international markets, ORPEXs, or regional export promotion organizations, work with more than 2,300 SMEs across Quebec every year. In addition to offering support services and personalized advice tailored to each region, ORPEXs organize trade missions in different markets and act as facilitators with governments and potential investors. The network includes 17 local organizations across Quebec, ranging from the Capitale-Nationale to Côte-Nord and from Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine to Outaouais.
Experts agree that the different offices of Quebec abroad, such as general delegations, are precious resources for Quebec exporters. Thanks to their vast network of contacts and their specific knowledge of the markets, these offices can open many doors to businesses hoping to establish themselves in a new market. With general delegations in major cities like Mexico City, Paris and Tokyo, Quebec exporters have access to economic missions and many export‑related services.
Carrefour Québec International (CQI) is a not-for-profit economic development organization that supports business leaders in the Centre-du-Québec, Mauricie and Estrie regions in their export efforts. Offering services including the creation of marketing strategies, customs compliance, international web strategy and market research, CQI makes its experts available to Quebec businesses and runs a program of training activities and conferences.
The SME Passport program, an initiative of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and of Québec International, allows 23 selected businesses to be part of an annual cohort that will benefit from a range of services and activities enabling them to accelerate their business development abroad. The program includes the development of an action plan, support for meetings with potential business partners as well as participation in a trade mission in a target market.
For industry development
With more than 800 members, Quebec Manufacturers & Exporters (QME) is one of the associations that ensure the industry is represented among approval authorities on subjects like innovation, skilled labour and export. In addition to actively commenting on topical issues, QME offers a program of networking events and personalized support for its members. QME is the Quebec chapter of the national organization Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.