Media Release – STEP Expands Support for International Re-Engagement
In response to export constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) announced today that it is offering expanded assistance to Saskatchewan exporters through enhancements to the Market Access Program and the Incoming Buyers Program. STEP has also introduced a new, temporary initiative – the Market Re-engagement Program – which is designed to assist Saskatchewan exporters to re-establish presence in existing markets.
To help relieve financial pressures on STEP members during difficult economic times and to maintain their access to the full suite of export programs and services, STEP has also instituted a one-time discount for any new and renewing memberships. For one year starting August 1st, STEP members will benefit from a 50% annual membership reduction.
STEP programming is made possible through annual funding from the provincial government. Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison noted that Saskatchewan is an export dependent province and the STEP initiatives, along with the support provided by the provincial government, will assist in the economic recovery resulting from COVID-19.
“It is critical that Saskatchewan exporters be well positioned to re-engage and re-establish their customer base as COVID-19 restrictions are removed,” Harrison said. “These new and enhanced export programs will not only provide immediate incentive, but will help achieve the longer-term goal of increasing Saskatchewan exports as outlined in Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan.”
These programs anticipate the lifting of travel and gathering restrictions in the future. STEP reacted quickly to the initial restrictions imposed to flatten the spread of the coronavirus. Within days of the international lockdown, STEP re-allocated resources and pivoted trade mission efforts to web-based opportunities. To date, seven virtual trade missions were organized and three web-based export information seminars have been delivered.
While virtual trade mission development will continue post COVID-19, STEP has developed a re-engagement strategy that outlines issues that may persist following the removal of travel restrictions. To reduce these risks and to ensure the health and safety of participants, STEP will be introducing several new initiatives including generating COVID-19 status reports in target markets before travel and implementing safer travel and trade show protocols.
STEP CEO Chris Dekker noted that, in a competitive world, export services will continue to be as vital during COVID-19 restrictions as they will be after.
“Saskatchewan exporters need to get ahead of the curve to ensure our place on the international stage – safely”, Dekker said.
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Attachment: Program Enhancement Details
For further information contact:
Ministry of Trade & Export Development
306 787 7642
Chris Dekker, President & CEO
Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP)
306 933 6552
STEP Program Enhancements
Market Access Program (MAP)
To incent and promote Saskatchewan exporter re-engagement on the international stage, STEP is offering the following Market Access Program (MAP) enhancements:
Increased funding limits. The cap for the Market Access Program will increase from $5,000 for Regular Members and $6,000 for Premium Members to $6,000 and $8,000 respectively.
Expanded eligible costs. Coverage for new costs associated with in-market ground transportation, internet/WIFI, and interpreter services.
Market Re-engagement Program (MRP)
Temporary Market Re-engagement. The program allows a one-time MRP application for 50% funding of one mission or activity in an established market or previously attended trade show with an objective of re-establishing connections post COVID-19. Eligibility criteria and application requirements will follow MAP guidelines.
Incoming Buyers’ Program
Enhancements to Incoming Buyers Program. To promote to the world that Saskatchewan is open for business, and to enhance market access and export B2B deal making, STEP will continue to focus on organizing incoming buyer events and extend increased buyer support through funding of travel costs for international customers. Costs will include air/ground travels costs to a maximum of $500, hotel costs as arranged by STEP to a maximum of four nights, STEP arranged meals and ground transportation in province, STEP arranged interpretation services.