Export market research

Market research can help you target your efforts where you are most likely to succeed. Be prepared to take extra steps and spend more when trying to find markets abroad.


Foreign buyers can be charged duty to buy your products. This factor could influence their decision about whether to buy from you or from someone else. Knowing this information in advance will help you find markets where you can be more competitive and will assist you in establishing your pricing strategy. To find tariff information for other countries, you will need to know the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System code of your product. It's also good to know which countries have favourable market conditions, like free trade agreements.

Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System assigns a six-digit number to each basic commodity. This classification is used by customs officials around the world to determine the duties, taxes and regulations that apply to products entering their country.

Countries are allowed to add additional digits to the numbers for statistical purposes. In Canada, two additional digits are added for exports, and four additional digits are added for imports. The United States uses a ten-digit system for both exports and imports.

Online resources can help you determine the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding HS codes of your goods.

International trade agreements

Trade agreements help to eliminate or reduce tariffs on Canadian exports, which can increase your competitiveness in foreign markets.

Canada has free trade agreements with several countries including the United States, Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Israel, Jordan, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland.

Agreements with other countries are being negotiated to help improve your access to more global markets.


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