Evidence of meeting #105 for International Trade in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was edc.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Robert Dietrich  Chief Financial Officer, Armstrong Fluid Technology
Mark Nantais  President, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association
Paul Lansbergen  President, Fisheries Council of Canada
Martine Irman  Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada
Benoit Daignault  President and Chief Executive Officer, Export Development Canada
David Bhamjee  Vice-President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Export Development Canada

10:10 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada

Martine Irman

I will defer to Benoit, but it is EDC, at the top of the house. It is not done through any transfer payments of other sorts. I would answer that question from a finance perspective. It's through the operations.

10:10 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Export Development Canada

Benoit Daignault

We're self-sustaining. Obviously, we run the operation; it does cost money. On the other side, we are making money through the offering of our services. Our profit last year was approximately $1 billion, of which we repaid $986 million in dividends to the government. That enables us to run the operation. It enables us to develop programs as well for Canadian companies to push for trade diversification. It's a self-sustaining model.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

That was my next question, what the dividend was, so that's a good number to hear.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

The time is up.

We have to go over to the Liberals.

I think Madam Ludwig is taking the floor.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you for your presentation, and congratulations. You have excellent qualifications for the position.

10:10 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada

Martine Irman

Thank you.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

My questions are about export readiness. Looking at your background, Ms. Irman—to single it as a woman—I think you bring some very interesting and unique experiences as an opportunity to EDC. What advice would you give to a woman who's interested in being a first-time exporter?

10:10 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada

Martine Irman

I know that the government has an agenda. We work very well with our minister in terms of the SPA process, and there's very much a focus around women entrepreneurs, first nations and indigenous women, and how we give them access.

I think I'll do the combined bank experience and EDC. I know I'm speaking here on behalf of EDC.

I go back to the fundamentals, which are awareness—helping them be aware that they can become exporters—and helping them along the way. In some aspects, young entrepreneurs, women—not just young—have a different means of communication. We need to be digital ready. We need to have access, and not just the traditional forms of access, where you have it in person and you go to a meeting or you listen to a chief economist or to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce or other sources of conversation. We need to also be able to reach out to them such that they can appreciate what is there for them and how to do it.

In terms of new development of the client strategy that the corporation has in mind, a lot is around digital outreach. It's around targeting people who would not otherwise know that they can be exporters and then walking them through the educational process as well as the facilitation process.

That's a bit of the top-of-the-house answer.

April 24th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

I agree with that a hundred per cent. I recently had a “talking trade” workshop in my riding. EDC was one of the panellists, and they did an excellent job. There was a woman in the audience who said she would love to export, but she thought she was too small. I was like, “Aw”. It is about education and awareness. Certainly, before this committee and others we've heard from women that they're turned down for financing, that they don't have the networks. They tend to be really small companies, so they're not branching out. They're not hearing about the opportunities. And when they do look to export, they're told they're just not ready.

As another vein on that, if someone is coming to you when they're interested in exporting, but they're a first-time exporter, or maybe they're not a first-time exporter, but they're looking to export into a market that may be higher risk, does your organization suggest to them ways to mitigate risk? Do you recommend agents and distributors, strategic alliances, partnerships, or do you say “maybe not this, but maybe something else”?

10:15 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada

Martine Irman

I'll let David jump in for a level of detail, but absolutely, there's a product profile that meets that need.

10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Export Development Canada

David Bhamjee

Just to add, I think part of the question around export readiness...and when you have that person across from you who is excited or scared about something, your job is to better understand not just what EDC can do, but the breadth of players available to them. Part of what we do is make sure that our employees better understand not just what EDC can do, but also the role of the Business Development Bank of Canada, the role of trade commissioners, industry associations, etc., so that we can expose the Canadian company to the breadth of what Canada has in its ecosystem. There will be instances where it isn't specific to EDC to be able to assist. They might not have an export contract, for example. It may be something that's part of their longer-term plans, but they're not ready, and the best advice to provide would be “not now; however...”, and then actually port them over to the solution that would make the most sense for them.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you.

Just following up, Ms. Irman, my next question is on outreach. I used to teach international trade in an MBA program. Do you go into MBA programs? Does EDC make presentations to business students and to high schools, just as a guest speaker, to introduce it before someone even enters into the business world?

10:15 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada

Martine Irman

I'll defer to Benoit on that, but I just want to say on your outreach point that it's done in so many ways. It's private sector partnership. It's other crown corporations. It's local chambers. It's awareness and sharing. It's also with the other crowns. We have a very good referral program. Understanding the product offering is one of those things.

For your point on the recruitment, and not just recruitment but more on the educational piece, I'll refer to Benoit on the specific schools.

10:15 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Export Development Canada

Benoit Daignault

Very quickly, there are multiple points to reach out to, but I think you have a fantastic idea. It's something I'll consider as part of our outreach strategy, because I'm not sure we are that well structured regarding that specific audience.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Okay. It is a great target for you, for helping companies out.

Thank you.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Thank you, Madam Ludwig.

We don't have time for a full round, but we have about five or six minutes. We will have just two minutes for each party to ask a quick question and maybe get a short answer. Then we'll wrap it up.

Go ahead, Mr. Hoback.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you and congratulations, Ms. Irman.

I have two questions. I'll give both at the same time.

One is the potential conflicts of interest with your job and your role as chair, and what you do to prevent them.

The second is that 2020 is right around the corner. You're going to see all sorts of transition in our economy that will require all sorts of different types of tools, new types of technologies, or new types of products and services that will be provided. There actually may be assets that will need financing but won't have something physical you can hold on to and put a value to. I'm just curious about your vision of 2020 and how we're going to deal with these new technologies and changes.

10:15 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada

Martine Irman

I'm here representing EDC—and not TD, my current employer—and I can tell you that the board has some very prescribed sets of policies. In the event that there are conflicts of interest, we would recuse ourselves. I would, as would any of the other board members who might express or have seen and/or perceived conflicts of interest.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Do you have a process in place?

10:15 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Export Development Canada

Martine Irman

Absolutely, and it's fairly thorough. It was part of the onboarding process. I did that with my employer, and with EDC it was very much part of the recruitment process. It's a fairly rigid process for all board members, and we adhere to that.

With respect to your 2020 question, I can say there's a lot of focus at EDC, not just on physical goods but also services, which is a big area of growth. I'll defer to our CEO, Benoit, to expand on that.

10:20 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Export Development Canada

Benoit Daignault

Very quickly, we're learning about this space. We are doing transactions. It's higher risk, but we measure the results, and we intend to grow our support in that business and continue to work with BDC.

Software as a service is a great example of how to structure transactions. It's more challenging, but we're working very hard, and we intend to grow the business.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

I want to compliment you on the people you have around the world. Whenever I travel, I always try to stop in at the local embassy and talk to EDC people, because they give you the goods on the ground, and they're so accurate. I just hope you maintain that. That's a very professional service that I appreciate.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Thank you, Mr. Hoback.

You have a couple of minutes, Ms. Ramsey.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Just quickly, I wanted to ask where you're looking to expand next, globally. Can you just give us an idea of where you're looking to place your next EDC office?

10:20 a.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Export Development Canada

David Bhamjee

My understanding is that for 2018 the priority is going to be some select representations in the United States.

I'll also just make the point that, with the exception of Singapore, wherever EDC is located outside of Canada it's a co-location with the Canadian embassy staff, so we look to work together with the trade commissioners who are in market. However, the United States will be the priority for 2018.