Following his visit to Ireland and meeting with the Taoiseach last month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travelled to the G20 Summit in Hamburg, where he agreed with European counterparts to set September 21 as the provisional start date for CETA - the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU.
Some details of the agreement are still being ironed out but many of the benefits will come into effect before the end of next month.
Duty on goods traded between Ireland and Canada will be reduced. In many cases they will be eliminated altogether.
To start availing of preferential treatment, Irish companies exporting goods valued greater than €6,000 to Canada should now register with Revenue's Registered Exporters System (REX). This can be done by completing an EU Exporters to Canada application form, available at Revenue.ie.
The form should be submitted to Revenue's Origin and Valuation Unit for the September 21 start date, (or, with a transition period in place, by January 1, 2018, at the very latest). Businesses importing from Canada do not have to register in REX to qualify for CETA preferences.
Exports by Enterprise Ireland clients exceeded €282m in 2016, positioning Canada as our largest market for products and services outside the EU, China and the US - and our tenth most important globally. Over 6,000 people are employed in Canada by Enterprise Ireland client companies, such as Kingspan, Leading Edge, Bimeda, Keywords Studios and Kerry Group. In total, over 400 Enterprise Ireland client companies sell into Canada, and more than 50 have a local presence. However, many more could be winning business here.
The deal will open new opportunities and make it easier to trade with Canada. As well as eliminating 99.6pc of all industrial tariffs, CETA opens the Canadian services market and enables Irish firms to bid for more Canadian public contracts. It will also make it easier for Irish professionals to work in Canada and encourage more investment between the two countries. Moreover, the mutual recognition of product standards and certifications will eliminate the requirement for 'double testing'.
Among the sectors of opportunity identified by our team in Canada are financial services and software; telecoms and Internet of Things (IoT); construction; consumer retail; digital media; education and e-learning; agritech; engineering; life sciences; and digital health.
In terms of public procurement, for the first time, Canadian provinces, territories and municipalities will open their markets to a third country, going well beyond what Canada has offered in the World Trade Organisation's multilateral Government Procurement Agreement under NAFTA (the North America Free Trade Agreement).
This is significant given that Canada's provincial procurement market is double the size of its federal market, with crucial services such as education and healthcare being administrated at this level. Canada will also create a single electronic procurement website that combines information on all tenders, corresponding to existing intra-EU arrangements.
There are other good reasons for businesses to consider Canada. It is the tenth largest economy in the world and ranked 22nd out of 190 countries for ease of doing business by the World Bank. Canada emerged from the international downturn with low unemployment, no mortgage crisis and no major financial institution failures. GDP growth rates for 2017 and 2018 are expected to average around 2pc.
Canada's overwhelmingly positive attitudes towards Ireland are another draw. Relations between the two countries are bound by family ties, cultural affinities and shared democratic traditions. Almost 3.9 million Canadians - 13pc of the population - claim some Irish ancestry. This helps in opening doors and establishing rapport, as does the world class products and services offered by Irish firms, increasingly sought out by customers in Canada.
Neil Cooney is Enterprise Ireland's country manager for Canada.
Sunday Indo Business