Opportunities NB (ONB), in partnership with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Global Affairs Canada is pleased to host the European Union Export Business Forum on January 30 at Moncton’s Delta Beausejour. The forum, CETA: Expanding Your Business Horizons, will feature presentations on the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and market opportunities in the European Union.

One of the forum’s featured speakers is Sanjeev Chowdhury, Director of the Free Trade Agreement Promotion Task Force with Global Affairs Canada. Mr. Chowdhury spoke with ONB to offer a preview of the forum’s agenda.

ONB: First, tell us about your background, and your current role.

Chowdhury: I’m from Halifax so I’m excited to be returning to Atlantic Canada for this event. I have a great relationship with the ONB team stemming from my five and a half years as Canada’s Consul General to Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. In 2013, we welcomed the Atlantic Premiers Visit to Brazil; I coordinated that alongside Robert Ghiz, then Premier of P.E.I. In planning that event I also worked very closely with Suzanne Turmel, ONB’s Director of Export Development. So I have a great relationship with Suzanne and consider her a friend; it’s exciting to partner with her and your Export Team for this forum.

Our objective is to promote existing free trade agreements that Canada has with other countries or regions to Canadian businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. The focus now is on CETA since it went into effect on September 21, 2017. We want to publicize CETA and its benefits to Canadian businesses coast to coast so we are hitting the road, visiting every province and territory.

Which leads us to your presentation in Moncton; what can attendees expect from that?

Attendees will be able to get into the specific benefits for New Brunswick companies. For the purposes of this piece, I’ll list five things every New Brunswick company should know about CETA.

  1. CETA has eliminated 98 per cent of tariffs on goods going to the EU; this took effect on September 21.
  2. CETA creates clear and simple rules of origin to simplify customs procedures.
  3. CETA allows New Brunswick companies to test their products to meet EU standards in Canada. In the past, testing had to be done in Canada and then again in Europe. Now, a process to allow testing it in Canada is being put in place. This means increased efficiency and decreased costs.
  4. Streamlined labour mobility is another huge benefit. It is now much simpler for Canadian businesspeople to visit and move about the EU. David Plunkett, former Canadian Ambassador to the EU will actually be moderating a panel on Trade In Services, which will have a focus on this labour mobility aspect.
  5. New Brunswick businesses now have access to the EU government procurement market. That’s a $3.3 trillion market and it’s open to federal, provincial, and municipal government contracts in Europe.

You will also be moderating a panel at the forum; what can we expect to learn from that discussion?

This roadshow is bringing with it a host of top officials able to answer any question a Canadian SME may have about doing business in Europe. We are bringing people from every government department and division within Global Affairs Canada that has anything to do with European trade. This really is the Rolls-Royce of roadshows.

My panel will discuss in-market opportunities for Canadian companies in key EU markets. I’ve invited special guests to join me for this discussion, all of them are Senior Trade Commissioners from Canadian embassies in Europe. The panel includes Trade Commissioners Sameena Qureshi , Greg Houlahan , John Roxburgh , and Michelle Cooper , as well as Francis Dorsemaine, my colleague at Global Affairs. It’s a can’t-miss panel where these Commissioners will speak about their country’s specific markets.

We also secured the participation of the Ambassador of the EU to Canada, H.E. Peteris Ustubs. The Ambassador will be the featured luncheon speaker, introduced by ONB’s Yves Maillet.

I can’t stress this enough: if there is one event New Brunswick SMEs should attend this year, this CETA forum is the one.

Registration is open until January 25 (CLOSED)

Written by Jason Boies