Premier’s message

As Premier — and as a leader who has made jobs and growth my top priority — I recognize the significance of global trade to the long-term economic health of our province. That is why it is so important that we continue to advance international trade, expand our exports and provide the necessary support to Ontario businesses as they position themselves for competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

My colleagues in government and I are ready to provide that support to businesses of all sizes, and to help them compete effectively. To that end, we launched Ontario’s Global Trade Strategy, “Seizing Global Opportunities” — our commitment to ensuring that Ontario businesses and workers adapt and thrive in today’s complex and interconnected global economy. This is part of the solid framework we have established to support international trade, including the work we have undertaken to prepare for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ontario’s Global Trade Strategy will help Ontario’s business owners benefit from the global economy on several important fronts, including by raising awareness of the supports available to grow export business in new and existing markets. It is our job to provide the programs and services that help Ontario exporters meet the challenges of globalization, increase trade in markets around the world and generate thousands of jobs.

I am confident that this strategy will give our province’s businesses the tools they need to thrive in the global economy, deepen their trade relationships, and continue contributing to our province’s culture of innovation, economic success and prosperity.

Kathleen Wynne

Minister’s message

As Ontario’s Minister of International Trade, I continually promote new economic, business and cultural partnerships across Canada and around the world. My ministry is the hub that leads our government-wide efforts to help Ontario businesses be more active in international trade, increase and diversify their exports and ensure trade agreements reflect and protect the interests of our businesses and workers.

Globalization continues to reshape how Ontario does business with our partners around the world, and our province is ready to meet the challenges before us. We have been consulting with international export stakeholders across multiple sectors, regions and governments and the message is clear. There is a need for action and a strong willingness to collaborate. I am continuing to build this ministry with a solid foundation of good international relationships, and proven success with entry market strategies, programs and services.

Ontario’s Global Trade Strategy, “Seizing Global Opportunities”, is the next step in helping our businesses grow and diversify our province’s international trade. It provides them with the tools, programs and resources they need to enhance market knowledge, to establish international market presence and business intelligence, and to overcome challenges. We also support access for Ontario businesses to the world’s markets through modern trade agreements that require government cooperation and advocacy to promote economic growth, greater competitiveness, and business opportunities.

Businesses here make, and provide, first class goods and services. By working together, government and business can ensure that these goods and services find their way to lucrative international markets. History tells us that strong trading relationships are the foundation for wealth and prosperity. Our goal is therefore to strengthen this foundation, to grow our trade, and to create economic opportunity for future generations. 

Michael Chan
Minister of International Trade

We are ready

Given that we live in a global economy, targeting an international audience is necessary and provides so much more opportunity to grow your revenues. The services provided by the Ontario government helped us reach a global market.

Daniel Dales, CEO, Digital Howard

International trade has always been a vital part of our economy. Today, we are well-positioned to do more. Ontario companies are setting the pace for change through new products and services in key sectors, including automotive, financial technology, information and communications technology, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, medtech and aerospace.

Our province is taking action to open new doors, help businesses enter new markets, and leverage partnerships with governments and industry around the world.

Why? Because we know that trade performance benefits not only exporting companies and their employees, but also thousands of other non-exporting Ontario companies and their workers. In fact, today, exports and interprovincial trade represent more than 50% of the province’s GDP. That result enhances the quality of life and job opportunities for the people of Ontario.

The case for change

Ontario is a leading economy in Canada, and to maintain the benefits of this economic strength, we can neither stand still nor take this for granted.

The focus on trade, globalization and evolving trade agreements between international jurisdictions creates a higher degree of competition in both traditional and emerging markets. Supply chains are increasingly global in nature, spanning multiple countries and regions, and it is important that our companies are integrated effectively into these systems. Successful modern economies are constantly evolving and highly interconnected, with goods and services crossing borders in rapidly changing ways.

Today, the spotlight on trade is greater than ever before. Traditional agreements are being modernized, new opportunities for global partnerships and supply chain integration are being explored, and what we trade — and how we develop those products and services — is constantly evolving.

Diversification is necessary for Ontario’s economic growth given that more than 80% of our merchandise exports are concentrated in the U.S. market. Doing so will assist in managing the economic and political shocks of being overly reliant on any one market and allow existing exporters to expand further into other international markets. Ontario companies must expand internationally to access new revenue streams and achieve long-term growth.

To be successful, Ontario is taking a whole-of-government approach from policy leadership to program development and implementation. Ontario has demonstrated its capabilities through its leadership role in trade negotiations, and its ability to identify key markets through detailed analysis of potential opportunities and emerging trends, market entry considerations and the province’s export strengths.

Also paramount in our ability to seize global opportunities is the development and access to strong data, strategic intergovernmental relations and cohesive partnerships across the entire spectrum of organizations that promote and enable international trade for Ontario businesses.

With all of these factors aligned, we can harness the strengths of our industry, academia and government to pivot towards an economy that meets complex global market demands and that is differentiated from competition because of our diversity, innovation and talent.

Our strategy for success

“Seizing Global Opportunities” sets out the government’s four key priority areas to increase the province’s international trade performance over the next five years.

Each priority has a corresponding set of goals and activities which are highly interconnected and have a common theme of diversification. The priorities have been developed in the context of our historical trade strengths, international trade shifts, global geopolitical realities, stakeholder input, and international trade programs and services.

Priority one: leveraging Ontario’s international trade and investment assets

Exporting is the bulk of our business. We found that our homegrown technologies and services were well received outside the Canadian market. The financial subsidies provided by the federal and provincial government allowed Mantech to be part of the Ontario Pavilion at the Ifat Conference in Munich.

Robert V. Menegotto, President and CEO, Mantech Inc.

Success in international trade is fundamentally built on the establishment and maintenance of strong relationships. Ontario has the opportunity to expand and enhance its partnerships, services and programs to increase trade outcomes.


  • Diversify trade markets, products and services
  • Strengthen international relationships
  • Build a trade ecosystem that is more inclusive.

How we will get there — examples of key actions:

  • Introduce enhanced exporter preparation workshops and increase capacity of one-on-one advisory services for Ontario’s small and medium-sized businesses
  • Build stronger international networks to help Ontario companies access opportunities in key markets.
  • Design and implement activities to promote greater participation of women, new immigrants and Indigenous peoples in international trade and expand business supports to Northern Ontario
  • Help Ontario companies reach new markets by leading missions, establishing an Ontario presence at trade shows and arranging opportunities for business-to-business connections in key markets and sectors to increase their global market share.

Priority two: leading through coordinating, convening and connecting

From policy to programs and services for Ontario businesses, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has been a strong partner of the Ontario government in supporting export development through the Ministry of International Trade’s Global Growth Fund. We welcome the leadership and focus the Strategy will bring in supporting export development.

Richard Koroscil, Interim President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ontario’s international trade ecosystem is extremely complex. In addition to simplifying pathways for Ontario businesses, we have the opportunity to improve alignment and coordinate its advocacy efforts in the realm of international trade agreements that are essential to Ontario’s economic growth.


  • Function as a central hub for Ontario’s trade ecosystem so businesses can more easily navigate and access exporter services and programs
  • Coordinate international trade promotion and advocacy in Ontario
  • Act as a catalyst for agile and targeted international trade strategies.

How we will get there — examples of key actions:

  • Implement a smart technology portal that will provide businesses with customized, one-window access to information and programs
  • Develop new exporter preparation programs to help companies prepare to take their products to market
  • Actively engage with Global Affairs Canada to influence the negotiation, implementation and defense of Ontario’s interests in international trade agreements
  • Collaborate with partner ministries and key stakeholders to promote exporter programs and build awareness of exporting for businesses.

Priority three: driving better intelligence for stronger trade outcomes

Behind every business goal is the ability to make well-informed decisions. Backed by data and the ability to derive conclusions and predictions from it.

Tom Jenkins, Chairman of the Board, OpenText

Ontario must strengthen its use of international trade data and intelligence to identify emerging trends and insights for trade opportunities. Evidence-based policy and decision-making will support advocacy in the negotiation and implementation of international trade agreements that reflect our interests.


  • Develop new research and intelligence-gathering partnerships
  • Identify priority sectors and markets through detailed analyses of potential opportunities, market entry considerations and Ontario’s export strengths and evaluate regularly
  • Build new trade metrics, databases and analysis to more effectively measure the impact of trade.

How we will get there — examples of key actions:

  • Expand databases to inform analysis and decision-making on key trade issues
  • Create a framework for authoritative trade data to ensure consistency and accuracy in reporting trade information
  • Conduct in-depth regional and sector market analyses to inform strategic decision-making and investments to ensure that Ontario can adapt and proactively capitalize on prospects that align with our province’s strengths and lead to economic benefit
  • Identify and leverage new and non-traditional data sources and collaborate with the federal government and other jurisdictions to obtain improved Ontario-specific data.

Priority four: building stronger networks and infrastructure

Ontario is positioned to connect with the dynamic economies of Asia, with its healthy innovation ecosystem and its powerful global networks. APFC is working closely with the Province of Ontario and strongly supports its global orientation and pivot to Asia.

Stewart Beck, President & CEO, APFC

The value of networks and infrastructure to capitalize further on international trade cannot be overstated. Ontario has an opportunity to harness new technologies and stronger government and stakeholder relationships in order to advance our economic interests.


  • Capitalize on technologies to increase opportunities for trade diversification
  • Strengthen government-to-government relations to drive economic benefits for Ontario
  • Leverage talent to capitalize on global trade networks.

How we will get there — examples of key actions:

  • Research new and emerging technologies in international trade (i.e. technologies to facilitate trade and business to business engagement)
  • Identify e-commerce markets where Ontario companies are underrepresented and where opportunities exist
  • Lead Ontario’s role in NAFTA renegotiation and all international trade agreements
  • Collaborate with traditional and new partner organizations to leverage Ontario’s global talent connections.

Building momentum

The implementation of Ontario’s Global Trade Strategy, “Seizing Global Opportunities” is well underway, and we are driving towards our goals with innovative approaches and strategic investments prioritized towards actions that garner the highest, direct returns.

Among the new initiatives underway, the Ministry of International Trade (MIT) is establishing creative partnerships with innovative organizations and institutions in order to access valuable insight, data analysis and information to help broaden the scope of support it can provide business. For example, the Ministry is using enhanced information and aggregated data about Ontario’s workforce and its professional network connections to help identify and strengthen business opportunities in foreign markets. With this support, Ontario businesses will be able to enhance their own market intelligence and business case development to better navigate towards a world of international trade opportunities. 

We are building awareness of the benefits of exporting through targeted marketing efforts, and encouraging SMEs to take advantage of the range of government programs and services available to help achieve their exporting goals. We are providing value-added support to Ontario businesses and to potential partners through MIT’s 15 Trade and Investment Offices globally. At the same time, we are expanding our global network and in-market resources. By increasing capacity and leveraging a strong co-location relationship with Global Affairs Canada, through its network of diplomatic and consular offices abroad, Ontario is enhancing the province’s international footprint to provide strategic support that strengthens our trading relationships and export potential in key markets.

In trade, time is money. That is why Ontario is leading efforts to boost awareness, connectivity and access through highly intelligent, scalable technology like Magnet, the first of its kind in Canada, which was developed with Ryerson University and key partners. By creating an export business portal that provides businesses with 24/7 access to customized information that is tailored to their specific needs, Ontario exporters will have the tools, the network and the content necessary to achieve their export goals quickly and easily.

What will success look like?

MIT has concrete performance metrics in place to ensure that we are measuring success and monitoring outcomes as “Seizing Global Opportunities” is implemented. They are:

  • Increase SME export revenues
  • Strengthen SME global competitiveness
  • Increase number of new exporters
  • Scale up and increase diversification of experienced exporters
  • Strengthen Ontario’s international profile.

We will continue to take a modern approach to global trade and adjust to global trends and market shifts as necessary. In doing so, we expect to see the following outcomes:

  • Made-in-Ontario goods and services will be sought after and used in more international markets with long-term high growth potential
  • Ontario companies will be recognized internationally as suppliers of choice for high quality and innovative products and services
  • More Ontario business, representing a broader spectrum of industries and entrepreneurs, will participate in the global economy as exporters and partners
  • Ontario will have an increased profile and enhanced reputation internationally, leading to new or expanded intergovernmental initiatives and partnerships.

Preparing for tomorrow

The pace of change and the demand for agility in global business and trade will not decrease. The geopolitical environment will continue to be dynamic and offer both new challenges and prospects. “Seizing Global Opportunities” will support a stronger provincial economy, built for today’s world that enables stronger business growth, higher wages, as well as greater employment opportunities and an enhanced quality of life for the people of Ontario.

Our strategy is built on a legacy of international trade success and global market expertise. Our province is home to a community of thriving exporters and aspiring companies, we have a talented, informed and educated workforce, and we are committed to ongoing collaboration across all levels of government and business.

As such, we are well equipped and well supported to advance intelligently and confidently as a leader in global trade. Together with our partners, we will take Ontario’s expertise, goods and services to the world. We will seize the global opportunities that will help bring prosperity to our province by trading on our reputation, our values, our ideas and our strengths.