WORKSHOPS FOR EU BUSINESS

As part of the CETA Market Access Program for EU Business, two Workshops will be organized, with the aim of providing strategic insights for EU business on the opportunities and challenges of the Canadian market and enabling and expanding a sustainable information sharing network amongst EU stakeholders.  These EU Workshops will bring together selected industry leaders and EU networks for closed door discussions, to share insights on the business climate for EU businesses in Canada.

The first Workshop will be held in Toronto on October 19th 2017, more information on this event is provided below. The second Workshop will be held in Vancouver in the second half of 2018. Continue reading

Why Belgium is your ideal location for trade fairs

Why Belgium is your ideal location for trade fairs

What better country to visit trade fairs or participate in trade fairs than Belgium? Its strategic location in the heart of Europe makes small Belgium a great business hub. Brussels is in the top 5 of European cities that attract businesses. No wonder a small country like Belgium is host to so many interesting trade fairs! No matter what your industry is, no matter where your interests lie, Belgium will have a trade fair for you.

Belgium’s central location also means that you don’t lose much time travelling back and forth. Cities like Paris, Amsterdam and London are less than a two-hour train drive away from Brussels. Business hubs like Rome, Madrid, Stockholm, Berlin, and Athens can be reached in less than half a day. Why not combine a visit to a trade fair with another business trip? And since Belgium is a very compact country, you will always have a great choice of hotels nearby, many of which also offer meeting facilities.

A third bonus: you don’t have to worry about the language. Belgium has three official languages and a knack for languages, so people will be happy to talk to you in English, French, Dutch and sometimes even other languages such as German or Spanish!

So which trade fairs are interesting for you? The list is long! From fisheries and agriculture to engineering, from boats to chocolate, from horses to industrial maintenance, take your pick! One of my personal favourites for B2B networking is Infosecurity Belgium in March, but the process instrumentation fair M+R Belgium and Belgium’s largest Safety & Security event Secura are certainly worth a visit as well. Or how about the networking event Transport and Logistics in October? Wood construction is the topic of the Bois & Habitat fair voor B2B professionals. And don’t miss Empack, the packaging fair in November.

See you in Belgium!

(c) Els Hoefman – InDutch 

What you should know about Flemish before doing business in Belgium

The new Port House, Antwerp Port Authority's Head Office

The new Port House, Antwerp Port Authority’s Head Office

It is widely known that Belgium is a great country for business: a strategic location, a great logistical infrastructure, a skilled workforce and an ideal test market for new projects and products. And while the high level of language skills will be useful for businesses that want to enter this market, the only way to attract customers is to have your materials translated into the local languages. After all 75% of potential clients want to see your products in their native language, according to a Common Sense Advisory Study. In Belgium that means Dutch (spoken by approximately 60% of the population, based in Flanders), French (approximately 40%, based in Wallonia) and German (approximately 1%, based near the German border).  That’s right, Flemish is not in the list. How come?

Languages per region in Belgium

Languages per region in Belgium

Flemish = Belgian Dutch

The answer is simple: Flemish is not the official name of the language, it is a common term for Belgian Dutch. Belgian Dutch is one of the two main variants of Dutch, the other being Dutch for The Netherlands. The difference between these two is similar to the difference between American English and British English: while we easily understand each other, we can tell immediately if a text is one variant or the other.  We use the same dictionaries and share the same language resources, but we have different accents and we use different styles, different terms etc. And it is not only a question of linguistic differences, but also of cultural differences. The Dutch are more direct, while in Belgium people prefer to be more reserved and polite. And that is essential for the tone of voice of your materials if you want to reach out to new clients – even a basic decision such as whether to use the formal or the informal form of the personal pronoun “you” may well differ per country.

Should you use Belgian Dutch to target the Flemish market?

The next question is of course: should you use Belgian Dutch to target the Flemish market? The answer is in the first paragraph of this article: “75% of potential clients want to see your products in their native language”. That means that any materials meant to attract customers or to appeal to readers should be in Belgian Dutch. Marketing materials, brochures, social media messages, TV commercials… More neutral materials such as instructions, manuals etc. are mostly translated into one and the same “Dutch” – i.e. in a neutral language in which more colloquial expressions and typical terms for either variant are avoided. Belgian Dutch translators are ideal for such translations as well, since they are more aware of the differences between both variants (but that is between us, don’t tell the Dutch I said so).

Do you want to know more? Do you need translations into Belgian Dutch or the neutral form of Dutch for your business or may you need them at a later stage? Do not hesitate to contact me or visit my website or my LinkedIn profile and connect so that you have my details at hand when you need them. (And in case you are wondering: in spite of the message I want to convey in this article I do say I am a Dutch and Flemish translator, in order to be found by people who have not read this article yet and use ‘Flemish’ as a search term.)

I look forward to helping you enter the Belgian market!

(c) Els Hoefman – InDutch

The basics of exporting: a step-by-step guide

The idea of exporting can be bewildering.

For a step-by-step how-to guide, ExportWise attended Invest Ottawa’s “The Basics of the Exporting Process” delivered by Christian Sivière, a trade expert with Solimpex Montréal & Ottawa.

Christian SivièreChristian Sivière
In 2010, following a 30-year career in international freight-forwarding, Christian Sivière founded Solimpex, an import-export consultancy. He helps SMEs grow internationally and provides training on international trade, supply-chain management, importing, exporting, logistics and customs compliance. He lectures at Champlain College Montréal, for the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association in Toronto, and gives seminars and webinars for various trade organizations and personalized training for companies. He also writes articles for Materials Management & Distribution magazine.

Here is Christian’s advice:

Step 1: Activate your business number for export

If you’re an entrepreneur, you likely have a GST/HST number. To start exporting, call the Canada Revenue Agency and adjust your business number for this purpose. This becomes your exporter number.

Step 2: Investigate the applicable laws in the countries you’re targeting

“Looking at exporting laws is a complex issue, and I’m not a lawyer, but I want to point that out that you have to investigate it,” Sivière said. “If you’re selling to Germany or Brazil or China, see which laws apply.” The Vienna Convention, ratified by 84 countries, states the obvious — the seller transfers ownership with relevant documentation; the buyer pays — but this isn’t a global solution because it doesn’t establish ownership during the transfer, leaving that to each country’s national laws. Ownership could stay with the seller, or could be transferred to the buyer as soon as the contract is formed.

Step 3: Understand what the “Incoterm” is

“Incoterms” are rules defining the obligations for the delivery of merchandise. Short for “international commercial terms,” they outline who pays for what costs and where risks shift from buyer to seller. Incoterms are updated every 10 years; the current terms were updated in 2010. EXW, FCA, FAS and FOB are acronyms for Incoterms that state that the buyer pays the shipping costs. Under CFR, CPT, CIF and CIP Incoterms, the exporter pays for shipping costs, but if something happens during shipping, it’s the buyer’s loss. For the last three, DAT, DAP and DDP, the exporter pays to ship and bears all the risk. When you state a price, attach an Incoterm so terms for each party are clear. Sivière says many exporters aren’t well-versed in Incoterms.

Step 4: Getting paid and letters of credit

A letter of credit acts as a guarantee of payment for the seller. The payment is set aside at an issuing bank and the letter of credit is sent to an advising bank in the exporter’s country. For the buyer, it’s a guarantee the seller won’t get paid until the goods have been shipped. It’s an irrevocable instrument, governed by international rules. It protects both parties for payment, but doesn’t protect either on quality of goods. Letters of credit also expire, so ship the goods before the expiration date and be sure your documents follow instructions “to the letter.”

“If you have a transaction, for example, with a country such as Venezuela, which has a shortage of hard currency, you’ll want your buyer to get a letter of credit and, for a price, you have the option to get a Canadian bank to confirm it,” Siviere said.

Step 4B: Consider credit insurance

If your buyer refuses a letter of credit, consider credit insurance, “a great way to manage risk if your partner defaults on payment or goes bankrupt,” Sivière said. He recommended Export Development Canada (EDC), which sells account receivable insurance through an easy-to-use online portal.

Step 5: Beware of exchange rate fluctuations

Exchange rates can fluctuate during negotiations and the amount you’re promised may change due to this. Some got caught in this with the British pound’s plunge after Brexit. Sivière recommends opening a U.S. and/or euro account at your bank to minimize exchange losses.

Step 6: Cargo insurance

You’ll want this if cargo is damaged in transit. Every insurance company will have different rates, but they share the same internationally established rules. The cheapest options won’t cover loss due to theft and will apply only if there is total loss (for example, if the ship sinks; if it capsizes and only half the load is lost, the insurance won’t apply.) The most expensive options will cover total and partial loss. If you don’t buy insurance, read the fine print — carriers have limits of liability. Many have contractual obligations of, say $2/lb for your goods — but that’s usually not enough. In addition, there are time limits on these claims, so note the expiration date. The Canadian International Freight Forwarders’ Association is a good reference.

Step 7: Documentation

The commercial invoice is a standard invoice issued by the exporter. A pro forma invoice is for customs purposes only, when items, such as product samples and goods for a trade show that will be coming back, aren’t to be sold.

Other documents are also required. If you’re exporting food or plant material, you’ll need certificates for them. On these forms, describe the product, quantity, unit price, and total price in the currency being paid. Be clear: If you’re sending a Samsung Galaxy 7, say it’s a phone; it may otherwise sound like a missile to a customs officer. Also include the Incoterms that apply and the terms of payment. Some countries will require a certificate of origin, particularly those in the Middle East and Latin America. This document is usually certified by a Chamber of Commerce.

Other items of note:

  • Canada has more than a dozen free-trade agreements. Many exporters don’t leverage them.
  • Wood packaging materials must be heat-treated or fumigated and noted by a seal.
  • Sometimes you need an export permit, as you do to export to North Korea. See Global Affairs Canada’s “area control list.” Also check the export control list, which deals with products. It mainly applies to military goods, but there are other provisions, including technology.
  • Be mindful of sanctions Canada has with certain countries — Iran, Russia, Belarus and Zimbabwe, for example. You might still be able to export, but make sure you comply with the sanctions and get an export permit. Also check American sanctions. Airbus sold 118 planes to Iran in Jan. 2016, but needed clearance from the U.S. because more than 10 per cent of the planes’ parts were of U.S. origin. Canadian products often have U.S. parts and components, so be mindful of that.
  • Complete an export declaration if you’re shipping goods at a value of $2,000 or more, keeping in mind we have an exemption with the U.S.

CETA: Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with the European Union

Prime Minister Trudeau inked Canada’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA)—known as CETA—with the European Union in Brussels in October 2016

Businessmen Shaking Hands with Canadian Flag

Prime Minister Trudeau inked Canada’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union in Brussels on October 30, 2016. It is often referred to as CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement).

CETA was several years in the making, as negotiations were launched in May 2009. The next steps now are approval by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, followed by ratification by the 28 national parliaments of EU member countries and some regional parliaments as well.

Continue reading

BWB – Business with Belgium Dec 6, 2016

To open the information session at Toronto’s Alliance Française Theatre on December 6, André van der Heyden, VP & COO, Belgian Canadian Business Chamber delivered a brief welcoming statement from H.E. Raoul Delcorde, Ambassador of Belgium to Canada. Click here to see the full statement: message-from-he-delcorde-docx.

Click here for the Agenda: 2016-12-06-bwb-draft-agenda.

Despite recent news stories about the uncertain future of world trade, Joy Nott, President, Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters Inc. (IE Canada), stressed that Canadian exporters must continue developing their strategies to leverage the opportunities arising from CETA (Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement) with the European Union and its affluent consumers. Click here for Joy Nott’s presentation: belgium-joy-nott Continue reading

Canada’s August 2016 international trade, with focus on Belgium

Statistics Canada’s latest data shows that Canadian exports to Belgium, which amounted to $181 million in June and to $172 million in July, were up substantially in August to $232  million. Canadian imports from Belgium on the other hand, amounting to $165 million in June and to $130 million in July, also increased to $213 million in August. As we can see, our bilateral trade is on the upswing and it will be interesting to see its evolution ahead. Continue reading

Report on Invest Ottawa session on CETA Sept 12

Invest Ottawa held the third event of its new international trade program series last Monday Sept 12th and the topic this time was the upcoming Free Trade Agreement with the European Union (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA). This was a timely event as CETA is the main item on the agenda of the upcoming Canada-EU summit in Brussels Oct 27th and 28th. The session was well attended with participants from a variety of fields from business, academia, government, finance, logistics to NGO’s, all very interested in the development of exchanges and cooperation between Canada and the European Union. Continue reading

The European Union’s June 2016 international trade figures  

According to preliminary estimates just published by Eurostat, the Euro area recorded an international trade surplus in goods of €29.2 billion in June, while the surplus for the EU28 as a whole was €7.7 billion.

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in June 2016 was €178.8 billion, a decrease of 2% compared to June 2015. Imports from the rest of the world stood at €149.5 billion, a fall of 5% compared to June 2015. Intra-euro area trade fell to €150.2 billion in June 2016, down by 1% compared with June 2015. Continue reading