Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service helps Canadian exporters to find and maintain business relationships, boosting canola trade in Pakistan, China and many other markets.

Trade Commissioners Provide Boots on the Ground

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Canada’s canola industry makes good use of Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service (TSC). The TCS has over 1,000 lower case trade commissioners in 160 locations worldwide, and they do a lot of the groundwork required to make new connections and maintain existing business relationships.

TCS has helped to make Pakistan a reliable market for Canadian canola seed. Processors in Pakistan have bought 700,000 to one million tonnes per year over the past five years and, as senior trade commissioner Margaux McDonald describes in the sidebar, this market has a lot of growth potential.

“Trade commissioners in Pakistan know the people who influence market access rules and have long-standing local networks in the oilseed processing community,” says Brian Innes, vice president of public affairs for the Canola Council of Canada (CCC). “When we aren’t there, trade commissioners and embassy staff are our boots on the ground to help maintain stable access and strong relations with processors purchasing our canola.”

Brian Innes, vice president of public affairs at the CCC (left), walks with Tariq Ullah Sufi (centre), chief executive of Hamza Foods, a group of companies involved in oilseed processing, oil refining, food processing, fast food restaurants and related businesses. This was taken at the Sufi Group of Companies processing plant and refinery near Lahore, Pakistan.

Innes and the CCC visited Pakistan for the first time in many years in late 2019. He presented at the Pakistan Oilseeds Summit. He also visited key stakeholders in government and academia who influence regulations affecting market access – such as those related to biotechnology approvals and import requirements around plant disease. Innes also had the chance to visit and meet with several purchasers of Canadian canola. Trade commissioners stationed at the embassy in Islamabad help to set up the itinerary.

By visiting Pakistan’s importers, Innes got to connect with their realities and talk about what they need to consistently get the most value from Canadian canola. “They like our canola and are an important customer,” he says. “Seeing them in person gave us a much better understanding of what we can do to support our crop.”

When the CCC isn’t present, which is most of the time, the TCS continues these conversations that are essential to trade relationships.

This TCS presence is important in all major canola markets, including China. Brittany Dyck, senior manager of canola utilization for the CCC, leans on the TCS office in China, especially as she and canola exporters are working to develop a meal market among China’s dairy sector and maintain canola meal as a key ingredient in China’s aquaculture industry.

“The most recent example,” Dyck says, “occurred in early September when the trade commissioner set up and participated in a virtual meeting with aquaculture feed giant, Tongwei, which is one of Canada’s most valued and long time customers of canola meal.”