At the Great Lakes Summit hosted by the Mowat Centre and Brookings Institution talking about strategies for regional

cooperation for shared development and growth today.  My key focus is on small business (SME) border challenges.

  • More employment growth is generated through SMEs than largercompanies
  • Most Canadian SMEs export but most US SMEs do not.  Canada is a natural first market for US SMEs
  • SMEs lack the information resources they need to conduct trans-border transactions effectively
  • SMEs lack organized representation (lobbyists) on trade issues so their interests are not heard
  • SMEs need an ombudsman to assess new laws and regulations on the basis of SME interests
  • They need a user-friendly web-based information portal that tells them what they need to know about exporting and importing

The trade rules administered by CBSA and CBP are only part of the challenge.  SMEs also have to jump through hoops imposed by other federal government department agencies, and provincial and state regulators

These ideas are developed in more detail in the a paper that I contributed to, published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business: Border Barriers: SME Experience with Cross-Border Trade.