This guest blog post is provided by the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT), a program within the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) at Global Affairs Canada, which supports Canadian women entrepreneurs as they pursue opportunities in international markets.

September 21, 2017 will go down as an historic day for Canadian international trade, as provisional application of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) began. With provisional application of the Agreement, 98 percent of European Union (EU) tariff lines are now duty-free for Canadian goods. An additional one percent of tariff lines will be eliminated over a seven-year phase-out period.

This free trade agreement opens doors for Canadian businesses of all sizes and from all sectors as they now have unprecedented access to the EU market of half a billion customers, with a GDP of $22 trillion and procurement opportunities worth $3.3 trillion.

Tariff elimination provides enhanced export opportunities in the EU market for Canadian producers, processors and manufacturers, as well as for agricultural and agri-food products, fish and seafood, forestry goods and the full range of industrial goods.

Helping companies to take advantage of CETA is a major priority of the Minister of International Trade. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) is ideally placed to help our companies do that. The TCS is a network of more than 900 trade commissioners located across Canada and in Canadian embassies, consulates and trade offices in more than 160 cities around the world, and we assist companies!

TCS gathers market intelligence and insight and uncovers opportunities for businesses. It helps Canadian companies prepare for global markets, make better business decisions to save time and money, connect to key contacts, resolve business issues and pursue opportunities in foreign markets. Our services are entirely free of charge.

To learn more about the benefits of CETA and the TCS, be sure to take advantage of the seminars, webinars and special events taking place across Canada. To help you navigate export opportunities in the EU market the CETA website offers a set of guides, a link to the Canada Tariff Finder, CETA-related events at home and abroad and information on special funding programs for exporters. Be sure to consult the Global Affairs Canada website to learn how preferential access to the EU market and tariff reduction can benefit your company.

The Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program at Global Affairs Canada is currently planning a trade mission to Europe in 2018 for Canadian women-owned businesses, who are already exporting or export ready, to take advantage of the growing business opportunities in the EU. Be sure to subscribe to the BWIT monthly e-news to receive the latest updates on BWIT's events and tools for women business owners looking to internationalize.