How To: Missions possible

Written by Fawzia Sheikh

Why invade foreign markets alone? Cover your airfare and accommodations, and you’re welcome to join any of the organized trade missions leaving Canada every year. Just be sure to follow these basics of winning on trade missions.

Be an exporter Trade missions work best for those already exporting, because they have the experience to follow through on deals they strike abroad, says Michael Rooney, director of Team Canada in Ottawa.

Do your homework Although missions often include seminars on doing business in the visited country, they’re mostly about networking — making them poor venues for conducting initial market research. Determine your product’s viability in the foreign market before you jet off, investigating issues such as labeling, pricing and distribution.

Find your mission While the PM’s Team Canada trips get the most attention, missions are also led by the federal minister of international trade, provincial export ministries and myriad business associations, such as the Canada-Arab Business Council.

Follow your own agenda Trade missions schedule opportunities to talk shop with current and potential clients and partners invited by the delegates or mission organizers. But since most missions last three to 10 days, smart companies schedule private meetings with interested parties, diverging from the official schedule and venue as necessary. You’ll foot the bill for independent travel, but some missions will provide interpreters for your meetings.

© 2003 Fawzia Sheikh

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