Workshop focuses on Canada-EU trade

The European Union is open for Canadian business. The Prince George Chamber of Commerce wants local companies to envision themselves getting in on that.

Chamber CEO Todd Corrigall is encouraging Prince George businesses to sign up for an information road show coming here Monday to shine bright lights on trade between Canada and Europe. With NAFTA talks full of division and uncertainty right now, he said, gaining knowledge about another lucrative trading block is good for Prince George's bottom line.

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With Prince George's existing infrastructure for cargo - roads, rails, runways - there is little to impede eastern market access along with the more commonly used connections to the Asian and American destinations.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is free trade framework that applies as much to northern B.C. as it does to Atlantic provinces, he explained, and the CETA Business Forum will explain the details.

"There's tremendous value to our members, going to this workshop," Corrigall said.

"Canada has a strong, new, open trade arrangement with the European Union and knowing what these changes mean and what the new opportunities are could be extremely important to any number of local companies.

"Hypothetically, if you look at any business, there's a chance to bid on and win contracts in Europe or ship goods to Europe or import from Europe into our local market, obtain parts and equipment from Europe, all sorts of possibilities and we are very used to thinking about other parts of the world for that. In Prince George we obviously think more about Pacific Rim trade or dealing with the United States. But there's another option just sitting there, with a great trade framework set to go. Maybe this workshop will give you ideas you never considered before about growth or your supply chain, or where you can tap into opportunities. Attending will perhaps make that more clear, or at the very least make you think in new ways about your business."

The CETA workshop is presented by the Government of Canada, working in local partnership with Northern Development Initiative Trust, the City of Prince George and the provincial government.

It starts at 8 a.m. at the Ramada Plaza (registration at 7:30) and runs to 1 p.m.

The list of specialists coming to talk about the trade deal's ins and outs includes:

Christian Hansen, Pacific regional director and senior trade commissioner

Sanjeev Chowdhury, director, Free Trade Agreement Promotion Task Force, Global Affairs Canada

Andre Cooligan, Ambassador, Embassy of Canada to Finland

Taylor Hladik, Senior Trade Commissioner, High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom

Holly McCoubrey, Deputy Director, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Representative

Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director, European Services Forum

Jamie Hammond, Assitant Deputy Minister for International Strategy and Competitiveness, Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology.

Each of these trade experts will make a presentation, a free lunch together will happen, and private meetings will also be on offer from among the special guests in attendance.

To book a one-on-one discussion, send an email of inquiry to ecdev@princegeorge.ca.

To register for this free workshop, go the eventbrite.ca website and search out the Prince George event listings, then fill out the online form. It is posted under the title Thinking of Exporting to the European Union?

It is open to anyone with an interest or curiosity about European trade.

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