As the landscape for modified and expanded trade relationships evolves over the coming months with an increasingly protectionist approach evident in the U.S., many countries including Canada, will seek to forge new bilateral agreements.  While this will bring some uncertainty in the short run, over time, this will lead the way towards new economic growth and prosperity.  If you consider the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) as an example, this will significantly reduce trade barriers and improve economic cooperation between Canada and the EU countries.  Once fully ratified, it remains to be seen how businesses will adapt and capitalize on this newly forged agreement.

Canada has consistently been the largest trading partner with the Unites States for over 20 years, and this will continue in the future despite the Trump rhetoric to the contrary about re-writing the NAFTA deal.  Ninety percent of Canadians live within one hundred miles of the U.S. border, and while Canada has had to work vigorously to defend its own identity in the face of an overpowering U.S. media presence, it maintains a distinctly different culture from its neighbours to the south.

What makes Canada great is that our foundation is rooted in financial and political stability, abundant resources, world class education, rich ethnic diversity, and having a strong social fabric of people and organizations who care about doing what’s right, and doing things the right way.  This too extends into the way Canadians do business, both at home and abroad.  While Canada maintains a well-respected reputation internationally, its acumen for business leadership may not be as widely understood, although recent trends may suggest that this is changing.

We have noticed a significant increase in inquiries from businesses outside of Canada. Many are seeking access to global business development expertise, different forms of capital providers, or people with sector specific insights, as well as introductions to other enabling resources related to their business initiatives.  Increasingly, businesses are looking to Canada as a more stable, gentler, predictable environment to do business, plus it’s a great place to call home base and be active in other parts of the world, including the U.S.

Over the years Mercana has cultivated a growing talent pool of senior level professional leaders who have considerable international business experience, not only in the U.S., but also in many other parts of the world.  This represents a rich resource of expertise to tap into.  These are usually individuals who have held significant leadership roles with large multinational organizations, many in a variety of different locations. Now, for whatever reason, often involving a preference for a more balanced lifestyle, they have transitioned out of corporate life, but remain very active, engaged, and interested in facilitating business opportunities by leveraging their experience and business relationships.

Ara Sahakian, Managing Director of Incubate Advisory, a Dubai based business advisory services firm recently expanded the reach of its operation to Canada and opened an office in Toronto.  “After 16 years abroad, it’s nice to be home.” says Ara. His firm assists investors with acquisitions and business owners with exits.  “Canada offers a low corporate tax rate, a highly educated and efficient workforce, no capital gains withholding tax for non-residents, currently a weak Canadian dollar and stability in the banking sector “. “Due to the overpriced real estate market, we expect foreign investors to shift their investment businesses.” Ara predicts. “Business that can export beyond the US markets will be of greater interest.”

Not only has Canada recently been cited by Forbes magazine as the second best country in the world to do business, it has received the highest ranking from the OECD’s Better Life Index listing Canada as the best of the G7 in terms of overall living conditions and quality of life.  As a result, Canada represents an attractive place for youth to go for their education and a highly sought destination for aspiring immigrants.

So for businesses considering which direction to head in terms of international expansion, Canada offers many strategic advantages and our business-friendly ecosystem is highly supportive of innovation and entrepreneurship.

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