Canada - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges
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Canada’s subtle, but important market differences, from the United States include restrictions or inaccessibility of imports in some sectors, differing provincial regulations and sales channels, bilingual labeling and packaging requirements, certification standards, and Canadian customs procedures.

Opportunities exist to sell to the Canadian government. Federal, provincial, and municipal procurement is open in principle to U.S. bidders. Bidders must be registered in Canada to bid and must fulfill all Canadian requirements to be awarded contracts (mandatory requirements are non-negotiable). In some cases, security clearances are required for personnel prior to submitting a bid, and in defense projects there may be requirements for offsets, known as Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB).

Increasing competition in several sectors, such as cosmetics, vitamins, electronics, and home furnishings translates into a need for competitive pricing, imaginative marketing, and discounts for agents and distributors. Other ways to differentiate from your competitors are to offer agents and distributors specialized training and flexible contract terms, or to offer end users after-sales support.

It is crucial to develop an overall Intellectual Property (IP) strategy to protect your intellectual property rights. IP is protected differently in Canada than in the United States, and the scope of protection is different. Intellectual property rights must be registered and enforced in Canada under local laws. It is vital that companies understand intellectual property is primarily a private right and the United States government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Canada. It is the responsibility of the rights holder to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, and entities must retain their own local counsel and advisors. Small and medium-size companies should work with trade associations and legal counsel to protect IP and stop counterfeiting.

Foreign ownership limits apply to Canadian telecommunication, airline, banking, and cultural sectors. For more information on these restrictions, please consult the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements website.