Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week that the government plans to launch a new $50 million, five-year export market development program. The fund would provide direct financial assistance in the form of non-repayable contributions to entrepreneurs seeking to export to emerging markets for the first time.
Applicants would be required to contribute matching costs. Eligible activities under the fund would include participation in trade fairs and missions, and market research. Between 500 and 1,000 exporters are expected to receive funding from the program each year.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of all businesses in Canada and account for nearly 90% of jobs in the private sector,” read the government’s press release. “However, SMEs face greater challenges accessing financing for a variety of reasons, including having little or no credit history, few tangible assets to use as collateral and more volatile sales and earnings. This is even more so for businesses looking to export in emerging markets.”
Details such as a potential launch date and the name of the fund have yet to be announced. The government has indicated, however, that it plans to move forward with the program on an expedited basis.
The Prime Minister also announced last week an expansion of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) representing $42 million over the first five years and $9.25 million in ongoing support thereafter. This funding will support the deployment of an estimated additional twenty Trade Commissioners to target priority markets. The TCS provides export advice and guidance to entrepreneurs.