Evaluation of the Canadian Trade Offices (CTOs) in China - Summary Report

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Evaluation of the Canadian Trade Offices (CTOs) in China Full report

Why is it important?

In 2007 and in 2013, Canada expanded its Trade Commissioner Services (TCS) with the creation of two-person Canadian trade offices (CTOs) in emerging markets of China, Brazil and India. The CTOs expanded Canada’s presence in order to help Canadian firms identify and seize business opportunities in key secondary markets.

This evaluation focused on the performance in China with secondary observations from India and Brazil.

What the evaluation assessed:

The evaluation questions that were asked:

The extent to which the CTOs are effectively contributing to the promotion and growth of Canadian trade and investments.

The extent to which the resource utilization approach of the CTOs is efficient.

The extent to which the governance and organizational approach of the CTOs and its trade commissioners are efficient.

What the evaluation found


Our Recommendations

RecommendationProgram response and action plan

Recommendation 1: Maximize new and existing tools in order to better integrate the CTOs into the country commercial program.

  1. Develop and define a governance structure of the China Trade Network that is inclusive of the CTOs.
  2. Maximize tools to address the gaps that would improve the efficiency and integration of CTOs with the department.
  3. Improve the quality and the timeliness of KPI reporting so that results are successfully tracked and shared per CTO.

Agreed. Working with missions and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), the Greater China Program (OPC) will develop an integrated governance and responsibility structure that identifies how hubs can interact with CTOs. This is expected to help direct questions for CTOs while rotational officers can familiarize themselves with the CTO network during cyclical changes. This document will also bring greater clarity to geographic responsibilities.

The Greater China Program (OPC), with support from the Systems and Analysis Division (BTB) and the Trade Commissioner Service Support Division (BTR) will work towards tailored solutions for an integrated Greater China Network.

Conditional on funding, the Greater China Program (OPC) anticipates a full rollout of the CCC’s client relation management system once funds are secured that is expected to streamline KPI tracking and entry into TRIO2.

OPC and BTB will also re-investigate alternative options for the CTOs to have TRIO2 access.

The Greater China Program (OPC) will work to enhance distribution of departmental resources to CTOs using the CCC’s online extranet portal. Information may include, but is not limited to sector profiles, Canadian capability reports and promotional material. Further, a refinement of KPI targets will be developed in the annual Strategia planning cycles.

Recommendation 2: Explore flexibility and nimbleness in order to optimize services in their dynamic markets.

  1. Consider flexibility and nimbleness of staff allocation and location of the CTOs.
  2. Recognize and take advantage of CTO staff’s efforts to support Canadian growth in trade and investment which are not captured in KPIs.

Agreed. The Greater China Program (OPC) continues to seek a sustainable solution to the financial situation of the CTO Program. When CTO finances are at a steady state, this is expected to improve its ability to consider flexibility and nimbleness of the Program.

The Greater China Program (OPC) also proposes a biannual review of the CTO office network to ensure that office configurations are still aligned with economic opportunities for Canadian businesses and is open to shifting resources from lower to higher-demand offices, work mobility arrangements and relocations, all of which would aim to be cost-neutral.

OPC will work with hubs and CTOs to ensure to capture efforts of the CTO’s outside of KPIs such as “support of high-level visits” as a “non-traditional” performance measures.

Recommendation 3: Seek out appropriate leadership and learning opportunities for the CTOs in order to strengthen the network.

Agreed. The Greater China Program (OPC) will explore various options to provide CTO officers with additional learning and training opportunities. Both cost-neutral opportunities and other options will be explored. Notably, the Greater China Program (OPC) will ensure that CTO officers receive opportunities to participate in key regional trade shows with mission staff, explore temporary duty opportunities, online training seminars, mentoring from relevant hubs and Canada Based Staff (CBS) officers. Finally, options for CTO officers to receive wider trade commissioner training, akin to what their counterparts in other countries receive, will be explored subject to incremental funding.

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