Case Study #1: Canada In The Global Business Environment

Case Study #1: Canada in the Global Business Environment

Canada: A trading nation?

You are preparing for a top-level meeting between the Minister of International Trade, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and senior business executives representing several multinational corporations as well as a large group of small- and medium-size enterprises. The objective of the meeting is to discuss Canada’s strategy in responding to the changing global business environment. Expectations are high since everyone wishes to move beyond political pronouncements and joint statements, to specific strategies and actions. The Trade Canada Summit is raising expectations and all are committed to motivating a call to action across major stakeholders engaged in international commerce.

While Canadians like to refer to the country as a “trading nation”—partly because of history and partly because of the large impact of trade on the Canadian economy today, leading practitioners and senior officials recognize several truths:

• Canadian trade is highly concentrated in import/export activities with the United States

• Certain industry sectors such as automotive and resource-based businesses account for a disproportionately large amount of Canada’s trade

• Intra-company trade—transfers of resources between affiliated companies—is an important part of Canada’s “export” business


The hard reality being confronted, and one which serves as a critical backdrop for this meeting, is the realization that by current standards, Canada does NOT qualify to be referred to as a trading nation. One point of agreement between all parties is that Canada CAN and MUST do better.

Your role

You are a senior consultant engaged jointly by the Government and the private sector stakeholders, to guide and facilitate the meeting and to assist in any agreed follow-on actions. Your success will be measured by the degree to which theory and principle are translated to practical, innovative recommendations and actions, endorsed by all parties at the Trade Canada Summit.

© FITT 1 FITTskills: Global Business Environment Case Study #1: Canada in the Global Business Environment

Position research

You fully appreciate that your effectiveness in this sensitive role will depend upon your ability to clearly articulate the major views of each group represented at the Summit. Review the following sources (and others you may identify) to assist in identifying the current issues, positions and options which are likely to be the focus of the upcoming Summit.

• Canada’s State of Trade, published annually by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (

• Canadian Council of Chief Executives (

• Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (

• Canadian Chamber of Commerce (

• Canadian Federation of Independent Business (


Trade attitude

Your professional experience to date allows you to immediately hone in on the importance of attitude in the successful pursuit of international trade and global business. Scan the leading press—as well as some “fringe” publications—to assess the current attitude of Canadians, Canadian businesses, and various government officials to Canada’s involvement in international trade and global business. Prepare a matrix of selected quotes, comments and observations, identifying the source and the stakeholder group involved, that will be represented at the Summit.

Assessment of tools and capabilities

Understanding that there is broad consensus among attendees to the Summit, that Canada can and must do better, you determine that it would be valuable to ensure that all attendees are aware of the availability of certain tools and resources. Review selected resources available to Canadian businesses of all sizes, to support efforts in international business and trade. Those sources can include, but need not be limited to:

• Canada Business Network (

• Canada Border Services Agency (

• Export Development Canada (

• Strategis (

• Trade Commissioner Service (

• Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (


Engaging the summit attendees

In preparation for the launch of the Summit, leverage your research, your own experience and your understanding of the global business environment – particularly emerging trends such as Integrative Trade, the impacts of China and India on global trade, and the increasing impact of global supply chains, to prepare a briefing note to each key group: Foreign Affairs, International Trade Canada, Canadian corporate executives and small- and medium-size enterprises. Highlight one or two major issues or trends of interest to each, with reference to the same broad themes.

© FITT 2 FITTskills: Global Business Environment Case Study #1: Canada in the Global Business Environment

Theory to action: developing recommendations

Prepare an outline of the main objective of each group represented at the Summit—a “must have” outcome that each would target in such a discussion, then identify an innovative contribution that you could propose to each group as a means of taking the dialogue from principles to practice. Consider how you would advise each group—both in terms of securing their own respective interests and in terms of contributing to the broader national objective.

© FITT 3 FITTskills: Global Business Environment Case Study #1: Canada in the Global Business Environment

Case Study Discussion Questions

1. How effectively do Canadian businesses and government engage together to promote a shared vision and agenda in the global business environment? Do Canadians strike an effective balance between private sector pursuit of global business and public sector support and enablement?

2. How well integrated and complementary are the trade and international business resources offered by the Canadian Government, relative to the needs of the private sector? What are the gaps, if any, that are perceived to exist?

3. What does a review of the current press reveal about the attitudes of Canadians in terms of global business and international trade?

4. What recommendations might come out of a Summit involving the major stakeholders involved in Canada’s pursuit of global business and international trade? Develop 3-5 recommendations and illustrate how they might apply in the context of trade and global business, particularly with respect to the rapidly expanding service sector.

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