OWIT-Toronto Presence Boosted on the Global Stage

Thursday, October 12, 2017 7:22 PM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

Board members of OWIT-Toronto have been busy over the summer and into the fall, representing the interests and concerns of members and women in trade.  OWIT is increasingly being consulted for input on global trade issues and international trade agreements, including NAFTA and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) And we’ve been speaking at trade events, from Toronto to Ottawa to Geneva, with more invitations coming up. Here is a snapshot:

  • VP-International Susan Baka represented OWIT at a NAFTA stakeholder consultation roundtable with women’s business organizations this summer prior to the start of the renegotiations.  She presented member concerns related to labour mobility, border procedures and gender. Stakeholders continue to be updated after each round of talks.  Canada is pushing for the inclusion of a gender chapter in an updated NAFTA.
  • On behalf of OWIT, Past President Alma Farias, along with OWIT Ottawa board member Ainsley Butler, appeared before the House of Commons International Trade Committee in Ottawa on Oct 2, to present more input on the NAFTA renegotiation and modernization.  This covered improving access for SMEs, simplifying customs procedures, facilitating cross-border business travel and incorporating gender rights and capacity-building initiatives.  Appearing before the Committee on behalf of UPS Canada, its VP, Public Affairs Aylin Lusi, also an OWIT-Toronto board member, included OWIT in her comments.  She referred to UPS’s outreach efforts to educate small businesses and entrepreneurs on the potential of international trade agreements for their business, and cited OWIT as an organization it supports both in Canada and internationally as an important additional avenue to connect women in business to the new business horizons brought by international trade agreements.  
  • Several OWIT members, including President Anita Agrawal, VP-Finance Maria Marchyshyn, Past President Alma Farias and member CJ Scott , met with the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Arancha Gonzalez, during her recent visit to Toronto.  Gonzalez is a passionate promoter of inclusive trade on the world stage.  And ITC’s She Trades initiative aims to connect one million women to global markets by 2020 through its mobile app.
  • OWIT was also represented at the World Trade Organization Public Forum in Geneva at the end of September.  Susan Baka presented the perspective of a small business exporter on a panel addressing Progressive Approaches to Public Participation in Trade Policy, organized by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and moderated by Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO, Stephen de Boer.  She highlighted the importance of networks like OWIT as conduits for government to get input on trade policies and better understand gender barriers.  She also emphasized the importance of humanizing trade to counteract increasing anti-trade and protectionist sentiments in the world. Baka represented OWIT on another panel organized by OWIT-Lake Geneva on the Hidden Faces of Trade, sharing how OWIT contributes to unleashing the potential of its members and the hidden faces of women in trade around the world.
  • Anita Agrawal and Maria Marchyshyn will soon meet with representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC – a consultative body of the European Union representing civil society) to discuss how we envisage the implementation and civil society involvement in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement (CETA).
Later this month, OWIT is invited to speak at a Vietnam Business Forum in Toronto on services we provide to Canadian exporters, as a precursor to the upcoming Premier’s business mission to Vietnam and ChinaJulie Nguyen, Director of the Canada Vietnam Trade Council and OWIT’s VP-Educational Partnerships, will be part of the mission in Vietnam.   

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