Overlooked niche industries payoffs: Apparently we’re not just hewers of wood and drawers of oil. A new Conference Board of Canada study, released last week, identifies several commodities and product lines in which Canadian exports play a leading or dominant role in global markets. Among them: pet food (we account for 3.5% of the global market), cosmetics, synthetic rubber and photonics, reported last week.

“The common perception is that Canada only does well at exporting natural resources. Very few people think of Canada as being a global player in the cosmetics industry or being competitive at manufacturing and exporting high-tech equipment or chemicals,” economist Kristelle Audet with the Canadian Industrial Outlook said. “However, they are among some of Canada’s hidden export success stories—it comes down to creating innovative products for niche markets.”

But also warnings about the impact of EU trade. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think tank, has come out with a study predicting that Canada’s hobbled auto sector could stand to lose even more ground after the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union. The report, written by Unifor chief economist Jim Stanford,

“…analyses CETA’s likely effects on Canadian automotive trade, investment, and employment and claims the trade deal will make Canada’s current trade imbalance with the EU incrementally worse. The study estimates that the existing $5.3 billion trade deficit with Europe will widen significantly as a result of the CETA, exceeding $7 billion within a decade.”

Read: 6 Steps to Prep for Export to the EU

Selling to the ‘base of the pyramid’: While the federal government is urging Canadian SMEs to venture overseas and explore opportunities in emerging markets, the stark economic reality is that many individuals living in those regions earn a fraction of what Westerners make, thus complicating the whole export project. A panel of international marketing experts that convened last week offered some advice to The Guardian on the challenges.

“When looking to create economic opportunities at the base of the pyramid, many companies are inclined to go with what they know, seeking the kinds of development, production and distribution networks that exist in developed countries. And when these structures are missing, many try to recreate them. However, even the lowest-income developing markets already have economic and commercial structures. And companies that are able to integrate themselves into these existing structures not only stand to make a profit, but also can avoid the costs associated with reinventing the wheel.”

Export Wire is published every Monday on For more tips on expanding your business internationally, visit our international trade section.

Sign up for PROFIT’s Trade Tipsheets for useful, proven, FREE tips for cracking foreign markets!

Loading comments, please wait.