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Cleantech companies urged to seek foreign markets

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 12/1/2017 8:45:00 AM

The new generation of trade agreements that Canada is negotiating is about much more than tariffs, and that’s why companies in Canada’s cleantech sector should be paying attention.

The point was underscored by Jean-Philippe Linteau, director, Cleantech Infrastructure Life Sciences, Trade Commissioner Service at Global Affairs Canada, during a webinar on cleantech export opportunities. The webinar was hosted by Export Development Canada on November 29, 2017 as part of its Cleantech Export Week in Ottawa.

“We’re a nation of 36 million people, but thanks to our free trade agreements, we have access to 1.2 billion customers,” Linteau said. “In those agreements, it’s not just about the tariffs.”

The current generation of trade agreements — deals like The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that recently took effect, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership that is still under negotiation — gives Canadian companies a competitive advantage over companies that are not covered by similar agreements.

Labour mobility is a good example, he said. The current generation of trade agreements allows Canadian companies to send professionals — technicians, engineers — to foreign markets to install equipment or conduct after-sales service. Government procurement is another. In addition to eliminating tariffs on Canadian cleantech products, CETA puts Canadian cleantech companies on the same footing as European companies bidding for government contracts.

The United States (U.S.) is Canada’s largest market for cleantech exports and Linteau said that’s not going to change. Some exporters are concerned about rhetoric out of Washington about U.S. commitment to climate change and the potential impact on the Canadian cleantech sector. But Linteau said that state and local governments and Fortune 500 companies have committed themselves to reducing carbon emissions and they, not Washington, are driving the market.

According to Export Development Canada, the global cleantech market was valued at US$ 1 trillion in 2015, and could reach US$ 2.5 trillion by 2020.

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