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CIFTA SME Activity Report

1. Welcome and introductions

Canada and Israel held a Trade and SMEs Activity under the SME Chapter of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) via video-conference on June 25, 2020.

The meeting was co-chaired by Israel’s Ministry of the Economy and Global Affairs Canada. Israeli officials from the Foreign Trade Administration, and the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto, and Canadian officials from Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), and the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv were present. SMEs are the backbone of both the Canadian and Israeli economies, and working together to promote and share best practices related to SMEs and trade is paramount to further Canada’s inclusive approach to trade.

2. Presentations by Israel

The first presentation was delivered by the Small and Medium Business Agency (SMBA). It outlined the importance of SMEs in Israel’s economy, the government financing programs available to SMEs, and challenges that SMEs face (e.g. regulation requirements).

The second presentation was delivered by the Foreign Trade Administration. This presentation outlined Israel’s programs aimed at supporting SMEs participating in trade; the “Smart Money” Program and the “SHALAV” Program.

The last presentation was delivered jointly by representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Industry and Israel's Economic and Trade Mission to Canada. They discussed Israel’s export promotion and commitment to helping SMEs find partners in research and development and other forms of investments for Israeli SMEs looking to export to foreign markets. 

3. Presentations by Canada

The first presentation was delivered by ISED on the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP), outlining the “Mobilizing SMEs to Export Initiative”. This program helps Canada’s SMEs define their growth strategy, identify foreign target markets, and create an export plan. Canadian businesses reported a growth of 18% in international sales after one year of the program.

The next presentations were delivered by GAC: The second presentation outlined CanExport’s grants and contributions to SMEs, which aim to increase Canadian SMEs’ exports by 50% by 2025. The third presentation discussed the ways in which Canada has been supporting and improving SMEs’ e-commerce capabilities. E-commerce demand has doubled over the last five years and COVID-19 has further amplified the demand. This presents a unique opportunity to increase Canadian SMEs’ utilization of e-commerce.

Next Steps

Canada and Israel have agreed to follow-up with further information exchanges, implement additional activities. A date for the next SME Committee meeting will be determined after bilateral consultation.

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