How do Chambers of Commerce facilitate international trade?

20230712 - WK 28 -  How do Chambers facilitate international trade

Entering new international markets is an exciting prospect for businesses of all sizes, increasing and diversifying market reach and creating an assortment of new opportunities. However, it can also be daunting, especially for scale-ups with limited resources regarding who, what, when, where and how to make it happen.   

Chambers of commerce can be a fantastic resource for facilitating international trade, providing resources and information, and advocating for policies that might help. Not-for-profit organisations dedicated to promoting the interests of their local business community, they can provide introductions, resources, connections and guidance that help you make a success of international expansion.  

The Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce is a highly proactive Chamber of Commerce committed to facilitating meaningful connections between business leaders in Canada and the UK. They are a great example of a Chamber of Commerce working to benefit the business community.  

Bilateral trade: a unique Chamber of Commerce approach  

The Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce is unique in its approach and perspective because of its focus on bilateral trade focus. They focus on UK companies interested in trading in Canada and Canadian companies interested in trading in the UK. That dual reach is something that not all chambers offer.  

Lisa Selby, the Business Development & Member Engagement Executive of the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce, has stated, “Our membership opens doors to a vast network of experts, resources, and collaborative opportunities that will empower your business to thrive in the dynamic landscapes of Canada and the UK. Gain invaluable insights, forge meaningful connections, and access support to confidently navigate your international trade journey.” 

Benefits of a Chamber of Commerce  

A local Chamber of Commerce can help businesses in many ways, not exclusively but significantly in international trade and expansion. Amongst the benefits are:  

  • Making business contacts  
  • Networking opportunities   
  • Business introductions to connect with potential customers, suppliers, or partners. 
  • Gaining company brand awareness and credibility   
  • Finding an advocate for business challenges  
  • Help to overcome barriers to entry  
  • Education and learning opportunities   
  • Increased visibility within your target market  
  • Information and resources to navigate the complexities of international trade  

More specifically, the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce takes the broad benefits and hones them for businesses eager to trade in the UK from Canada and vice versa. The benefits they offer include, but are not limited to:  

Chamber of Commerce events   

 The Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce operates a comprehensive agenda of activities, hosting over 55 networking events annually. These events include a mix of informal gatherings, such as the yearly golf day, as well as sector-specific events that are frequently organised in collaboration with industry experts and fellow members.   

This diverse range of events ensures a wide array of opportunities for networking, knowledge sharing, and industry-focused discussions within the Chamber's vibrant business community. 

The Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce is highly active in events, hosting more than 55 annually through an agenda of annual activities and one-off events. Events can be general (their yearly golf day) or sector-specific, often in collaboration with a specific member. The events offer broad networking opportunities and a chance for businesses in different sectors to come together. Sector-specific events provide the opportunity to explore more complex industry topics and conversations, led by industry experts. They also host workshops and educational events to help businesses interested in international trade learn about local cultural values they might not otherwise be aware of.   

International forums   

The Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce has internal mechanisms called forums, which are unique to them. As chambers aren't sector specific in general, they cover a range of industries, but they also want to create the most value for companies within each sector. These events are focused on doing just that, often chaired by an expert within the organisation or prompted by a request from members, some of whom may wish to contribute to the event. The focus is on bringing businesses together and creating opportunities to collaborate.    

Business introductions and referrals   

One of the most significant benefits that the Chambers of Commerce offers is business connections - which be especially important in international trade and expansion. With each membership tier at the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, members get several facilitated introductions. They sit down with you to understand your business goals, look at the member database and see who might be suitable to connect with. They're non-obligatory introductions, but it's a chance to go straight to the right person at that organisation and remove entry barriers that come with cold contact. It also ensures synergies between organisations and can speed up the introductory process.  

Lead generation  

Naturally, a business looking to expand into a new international market is interested in lead generation, which is undoubtedly one aspect of a Chamber of Commerce. They enable members to get leads and generate business by gaining answers to critical questions or through facilitating partnerships and introductions.  

News and information  

Staying up to speed on the business community, learning who's who, who's joined and who you can communicate with is arguably the most significant benefit of a Chamber of Commerce. The Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce has a newsletter every two weeks, which includes information including:  

  • General news  
  • Sector news   
  • UK success stories in Canada   
  • Canadian successes in the UK   
  • Upcoming events   
  • A members update   

It's an excellent way to stay engaged and abreast of new people you may wish to contact to facilitate your business.  

Membership Directory  

The Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce re-launched its members' directory this month to turn it from a list to a more interactive experience enabling communication between members. Described as being almost like a 'Facebook' for businesses, through it, you can contact other members (there are privacy settings so you can be selective about how people communicate) and generate opportunities organically.  

How the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce works with different levels of government  

The Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce collaborates with UK and Canadian governments, fostering dialogue, cooperation, and joint initiatives, across various departments. Recognising unique governance and regulatory systems is vital for businesses entering new markets. In Canada, legislative powers are divided between federal and provincial governments, leading to regulatory variations across Provinces. Understanding these disparities is crucial to capitalise on business opportunities.  

The Chamber collaborates with the High Commission of Canada in the UK and five Provincial offices in the UK (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec) to support members in navigating differences. This includes co-hosting events for minister visits, trade missions, and sector-specific initiatives. The High Commission and Provinces are active Chamber members, who provide sector-specific information, respond to enquiries, and connect with fellow members at events to foster knowledge sharing and collaboration.  

The Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce also actively engages and collaborates across UK government departments, including the Department for Business and Trade. This commitment aims to support businesses in navigating their target market and fostering networking opportunities.  

The extensive reach of the Chamber is a key and unique asset, allowing them to establish a wide network of contacts in both the UK and Canada. This enables them to connect with diverse expertise, collaborate with other organisations, and expand our network to benefit its members.  

They have a considerable reach, enabling them to help businesses overcome different international challenges.   

When a company considering international expansion should contact the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce  

If you're a company in the UK considering starting or already trading in Canada, or vice versa, then you can go to the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce at any time. If you're starting your journey into international expansion in one or the other territory, the recommendation would be to go to the Chamber as soon as possible. They are a cost-effective and impartial way to gain insights and access to support your business goals. They provide you with access to connections and local resources that you might otherwise struggle to source without knowing the business landscape, and they can enable you to learn from other members and their experiences. Through advocacy, networking, education and introductions, the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce can help promote a more business-friendly environment in your desired market, laying the path for a successful entry into new markets or new market sectors.  

Are you interested in international business expansion? Our team of Fractional CMOs are experienced in helping businesses of all sizes to make strategic choices that facilitate business success. Contact us to find out more.