CALGARY January 29, 2020 – Western Canada’s export trade with Japan could grow by US$1.7 billion -part of US$3.2 billion total for Canada – but only if export businesses act before the United States expands its new trade agreement with Japan, according to a new report from the Canada West Foundation.

When the U.S. opted out of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) it offered Canada significant opportunities to increase and diversify exports to Japan, especially for tariff reduced products. However, those opportunities have narrowed since the U.S. struck a partial trade agreement with Japan in October, an agreement that came into effect this month, much faster than anticipated.

There are still valuable opportunities – both obvious and non-obvious – for Canada in Japan argue the authors of  More Than the Usual Suspects: Western Canadian export opportunities to Japan under the CPTPP. The report is accompanied by an online data set that drills deeper into these opportunities than anything else available, offering Export Promotion Agencies and export businesses unique access to identify specific opportunities in Japan. Along with the usual suspects that are already heavily traded such as beef, pork and coniferous wood, the report identifies many under-traded products such as dried shelled adzuki beans, dried shelled peas, natural honey, frozen beef tongues and canola oil that Western Canada can supply.

The report makes three recommendations:

  1. The Canadian government, Export Promotion Agencies and businesses should use the results of this report to identify new opportunities and target exporters best positioned to do business with Japan in these areas.
  2. The modeling data should be incorporated into new, more sophisticated online export promotion tools that can use the modelling data to allow small and medium sized enterprises to search for specific export opportunities.
  3. Use of this modelling for Japan should serve as a test run for use beyond Japan and beyond the CPTPP.

“If Canada is going to seize opportunities in new trade agreements, exporters and the government agencies that support them need better, more relevant information. This report is a major step in doing that and as a result, giving western Canadian exporters a leg up on competitors in the CPTPP agreement.” ­­- Carlo Dade, Director, Trade & Investment Centre and report co-author

“This study walks the talk of diversification. Identifying less-traded and less-obvious sector specific opportunities with high growth potentials early provides businesses with first-mover advantage, and better informs export promotional agencies to target and connect the right businesses.”
– Sharon Zhengyang Sun, trade policy economist and report co-author

“Trade deals change the competitive landscape for thousands of products and the firms that produce them. Trade models give us a sense of each country’s fair share in these newly contestable markets. But in the rough and tumble business world, firms and countries get what they compete for. This study focuses on what is up for grabs.” – Dan Ciuriak, Ciuriak Consulting Inc.