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The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, met with his Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) Advisory Board, where he emphasized the government’s commitment to helping more SMEs export and take advantage of the newly created market opportunities around the world. The 18 members of the SME Advisory Board are

small business owners from across Canada who are active in international markets from key sectors of the economy. The Board provides advice and real-world perspectives to ensure that Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan (GMAP) continues to reflect the priorities, needs and interests of Canadian SMEs.

Minister Fast highlighted recent trade promotion initiatives under the GMAP: 18 Go Global export workshops delivered across Canada, attracting more than 2,000 SME representatives; $50 million committed over five years in direct financial assistance for Canadian SMEs for market research and participation in trade missions, which is expected to help between 500 and 1,000 Canadian entrepreneurs each year reach their full export potential; $42 million over five years to expand the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, with $9.2 million per year thereafter, building on the government’s recent expansion of Canada’s trade support; four new trade offices in China, bringing the total number of offices to 15, and more than 100 trade commissioners; support network in India strengthened to include eight offices and nearly 50 trade commissioners on the ground; 27 trade commissioners embedded in business associations across Canada to help them gain better insight into the needs of export-oriented industries; a historic trade mission to South Korea, led by Minister Fast with more than 100 Canadian SMEs participating, to take advantage of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement; and new Canadian Technology Accelerator sessions that support innovative Canadian start-ups.

The Harper government has taken significant steps to improve support for SMEs, including: reducing the small business tax rate from 11 percent to 9 percent by 2019; increasing the income limit for applying the small-business tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000; implementing the “one-for-one rule” to cut unnecessary red tape, saving Canadian businesses more than $22 million in administrative costs as of June 2014, as well as 290,000 hours in time spent dealing with red tape; launching the Venture Capital Action Plan to improve access to capital for innovative entrepreneurs; supporting the hiring of apprentices with the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit, a non-refundable tax credit equal to 10 percent of the eligible salaries and wages payable to eligible apprentices; and increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption (LCGE) limit for small business owners from $500,000 to $800,000 and indexing it to inflation, which increased the 2015 LCGE limit to $813,600.

With GMAP, through economic diplomacy and under a whole-of-government approach to exporting, the Harper government has revolutionized Canada’s trade-promotion efforts by ensuring that Canadian businesses receive the full range of support and services they need to find real export success in global markets. This creates jobs and opportunities for workers and their families here in Canada.

Minister Fast invited the SME board members to encourage Canadian SMEs to join him on his upcoming trade mission to the Philippines, which will take place from May 24 to 28, 2015, and to participate in a Go Global export workshop across Canada.

Quick Facts.  One in five Canadian jobs is dependent on exports, with trade representing 60 percent of Canada’s economy. There are more than a million SMEs across Canada, with only 41,000 currently exporting. Under GMAP, the Harper government set the goal of nearly doubling—from 11,000 to 21,000—the number of Canadian SMEs exporting to emerging markets. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has concluded trade agreements with 38 countries, bringing the total to 43 countries. Following the conclusion of the Canada-European Union trade agreement and the coming into force of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement on January 1, 2015, Canadian businesses will soon benefit from preferential access to more than half of the entire global marketplace.