New partnership with OWIT

In our efforts to provide our members with more benefits we have established a partnership with OWIT – the Organization of Women in International Trade.

OWIT is a non-profit professional organization designed to promote women doing business in international trade by providing networking and educational opportunities and comprised of 30+ local chapters across Central, North and South America, Western Europe, Africa, and Asia, as well as a Virtual Chapter for professionals involved in international trade without a local chapter where they reside or work. Continue reading

Business with Belgium and Farewell Reception for H.E. Marie-Anne Coninsx

In his brief opening remarks at the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber seminar held at the Dentons LLP Toronto offices on May 29, H.E. Raoul Delcorde, Belgium’s ambassador to Canada noted that the long and detailed CETA negotiations were necessary to ensure a thorough and path-breaking trade agreement.

As H.E. Marie-Anne Coninsx prepares to return home to Brussels at the end of the summer after serving as EU Ambassador to Canada for four years, she shared some of her personal thoughts and recollections about her stay in Ottawa. It was a critical time in Canada-EU relations as both sides ratified the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) after eight years of negotiation.

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She described the successful conclusion CETA as “a momentous achievement – the most ambitious free trade agreement that either Canada or the EU have ever signed (with anyone), a real “gold standard” of free trade agreements.” Continue reading

OWIT – Canada at 150

Canada at 150: Women Beacons of Hope in Global Trade & Business – Reserve Today

  • Thursday, June 15, 2017
  • 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Toronto Board Of Trade

Award presentations will take place at our 13th Annual Awards Gala being held on June 15, 2017

Be sure to mark off your calendar and join us for an evening of thought-provoking discussion and high calibre networking as we honour our award winners.

This year’s theme is Canada at 150: Women Beacons of Hope in Global Trade & Business”, featuring a fireside chat with a panel of dynamic and accomplished women in impressive leadership roles:

Panelists will include:

  • Kelli Saunders, President of Morai Logistics and 2016 OWIT Exporter of the Year winner
  • Joy Nott, 2015 winner of the Joanna Townsend Excellence Leadership in International Trade Award President and CEO. Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters (I.E.Canada)
  • Jami Kilpatrick, Vice President, Business Development. UPS Canada

Date:   June 15, 2017

Time:  5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Location:  Toronto Region Board of Trade 77 Adelaide Street West, Toronto ON M5X 1C1

Tickets:  Early bird  CAD$ 90 (until May 22 only)   

Reserve your spot today for this inspirational evening and take advantage of our early-bird rate. The first 25 registrants will receive a Free Sterling Silver Crystal Chain, courtesy of Jewels 4Ever

Register Here!

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.

Les derniers développements du CETA

Xavier Van Overmeire est avocat en droit des affaires et du commerce international chez Dentons, Fellow au Centre d’études et de recherches internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM), et directeur du Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC).

Dans cet entretien de la série “Planète Terre”, il explique les derniers développements du CETA, dont le parlement européen à pris vote dernièrement. Pour en savoir encore plus sur le CETA, consultez “Les grandes lignes de l’Accord économique et commercial global entre le Canada et l’Union européenne

Women in Business, March 8

WOMEN for CC On March 8th, join the Belgian and British Canadian Chambers for a celebration of Women in Business. We will be joined by friends from many other Chambers, representing a global community. Regardless of where you are in your career, come along for the opportunity to expand your network and meet many interesting people, from entrepreneurs to CEOs. Men are encouraged to join us too!The evening will feature a colourful, vibrant showcase of the Chambers’ talents alongside wonderful food, wine and music as well as great raffle and door prizes!

Continue reading

Our first Wine Tasting!

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On January 25th the BCBC had its first wine tasting paired with great food and Belgian sweets! Our guests were treated with a great selection of wines from France, Italy, Spain, California, most of them not available at the LCBO (also including a “bubbly” and a great Cognac!).

This private selection has been made by our partners’ wine agents:

Nokhrin Wines

Nicholas Pearce Wines (NP Wines)

Marchands des Amériques

& www.ChristianWineConsulting.com

In a friendly environment, our guests circulated with their tasting glass from agent to agent, spoke with them and learned about the wines they offer, asked questions, and expressed their interests. Each guest had their own wine booklet which enabled them to get detailed information of each wine, pairing suggestions, and make their own notes, you can download a copy of the booklet here: Booklet BCBC Wines. Continue reading