On Tuesday, February 23, WNY Foreign Trade Zone had the opportunity to present as part of a panel discussion on “Doing Business in the U.S. for Canadian Companies” with Welke Customs Brokers USA and Celebrezze Law as part of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce’s monthly “Lunch and Learn” series.

The session was well-attended, and in the audience were representatives of companies with interest in selling both services and goods across the border into the U.S. Many were already engaged in cross-border trade and others are just beginning the process. Judging by the reaction from those in attendance and the many questions we received during the discussion and after, “you don’t know what you don’t know” is something that should be on the mind of Canadian companies looking at the U.S. market.

Of course, now is the opportune time to be making that move. With the strength of the American dollar, selling into the U.S. makes all kinds of sense for Canadian companies. But whether you’re looking to sell into the market, distribute from inside the U.S. or actually establish a presence, your market entry is not something to be approached willy-nilly.

Tackling distribution and establishing a presence in the U.S., WNY Foreign Trade Zone president Tim Palisano (e-mail | web site) discussed building credibility by having an address in the states, logistics challenges at the Canada-U.S. border, and the cost- and time-saving benefits of using a Foreign Trade Zone.

On the Customs side, Welke USA president Damon Piatek (e-mail | web site) talked about U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) recent transition to “trade transformation,” and the importance of Canadian exporters to the U.S. to understand CBP’s focus on Customs compliance.

When it came to cross border business travel rules, hiring and immigration issues, Jaclyn Celebrezze (e-mail | web site) of Celebrezze Law based in Cleveland answered a flurry of questions about how Canadian companies can create face-to-face access with the U.S. market, and ensure that their representatives have the correct visas and border crossing documents and understand U.S. work rules, which are fairly different from Canadian regulations.

Overall, it was a great presentation, and we had the opportunity to meet some great, forward-thinking business people. Special thanks to the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce for partnering with us on the event. There is much to learn when looking at any new market for your business, and we feel we’ve compiled a great team of experts to help. For Canadian companies, the U.S. market offers many advantages in proximity, business culture and speed-to-market. Now is the time to take advantage. Let us help.