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United around the globe to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business.


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  • Saturday, May 02, 2020 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    *This article was originally published in The Canadian Business Quarterly available here.

    On the occasion of the recently celebrated International Women’s Day, and its key theme, “Each for Equal. An equal world is an enabled world”, we pause and reflect on what this means in terms of empowering and advancing women in international trade. Without a doubt, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment are essential to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve inclusive growth, leaving no-one behind. Momentum has been gaining in international trade institutions in recent years to better recognize the potential of women-owned businesses and support their growth.

    Rocky challenges

    Women entrepreneurs are growing in leaps and bounds around the world and are increasingly an important driver of economic growth, but they continue to remain underrepresented in global trade and participation in global value chains. Only one in five women export and women-owned firms win only one to two percent of multinational corporate and government procurement contracts. Women-owned businesses are often concentrated in service sectors and informal sectors that are less trade intensive. Many lack resources needed to expand beyond borders, including access to contacts, education and financing. In some countries, there are still legal barriers that prevent women from owning land and accessing financing, plus cultural biases exist. Even in developed countries, women tend to self finance which limits their growth. In addition, although considered gender neutral, trade agreements can affect women and men differently. Historically, they have been negotiated without a gender lens and failed to take into account the needs of women and the impacts of agreements on them.

    Women entrepreneurship making waves

    Research shows that women continue to play a central role in the rise of the entrepreneurial economy in Canada, launching businesses at higher rates than before, often outpacing men. And, according to Startup Canada, Canadian women entrepreneurs have been taking on the business world despite barriers and disparities in funding and representation, contributing $148 billion annually to the economy while employing 1.5 million Canadians. According to a report, greater efforts to harness the power of women in the economy could boost Canada’s annual GDP by $150 billion in 2026. This reflects the immense potential for unparalleled growth and represents a significant stimulus for Canada’s economic growth and prosperity. On the global front, if women participated in the economy on equal footing as men in the labour market, this could add as much as $28 trillion, or a 26% increase over current growth, to global annual GDP by 2025.

    Global call to action

    Set against this backdrop, the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) was formed back in the 1980s in the US. Its story is part of the journey towards gender equality, with a focus on empowering women to trade globally. A not-for-profit global association, OWIT’s mission is to advance women in international trade and business, engaging over 2,000-plus members and 20 chapters around the globe that impact hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and business transactions annually. The organization provides education, information and high-quality networking. OWIT has local chapters in Canada, in Toronto and Ottawa. As the first Canadian chapter of this premier global trade association, OWIT–Toronto is a 20-year-old non-profit designed to promote women doing business in international trade. Through networking, educational and professional growth opportunities, the organization helps to build members’ expertise in the international trade arena. Members include women entrepreneurs, service providers, trade practitioners, executives, government representatives and business women involved in international trade as well as students passionate about international trade. OWIT-Toronto serves as a gateway to potential marketplaces through its global network, connecting women to the right contacts for support, information, education and inspiration. This includes connections to like-minded women, access to business contacts and service providers like bankers, as well as to trade missions, and information about financing programs that help support international growth. Through pursuing strategic partnerships with groups and programs both domestically and internationally that support women’s economic empowerment and global trade, OWIT-Toronto amplifies networking opportunities for its members. It also showcases role models to inspire other women and the younger generation to pursue trade careers and opportunities.

    Canada’s inclusive trade approach

    In Canada, tremendous strides have been taken to achieve women’s economic empowerment, and Canada already demonstrates best-in-class leadership on the international stage. The Canadian government’s policy and legal approach through its progressive trade agenda and Women Entrepreneurship Strategy provides an opportunity to double the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025. Its $2 billion investment in women’s economic and social development reflects its strong commitment. Canada has also provided resources for the expansion of Export Development Canada (EDC)’s Women in Trade investment program. The critical investments ensure that EDC is able to translate its goal of helping women-owned and -led businesses grow into new markets. And the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS)’s Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program helps Canadian women-owned businesses access new export opportunities by organizing trade missions each year. At the global level, Canada’s trade diversification strategy enables a more inclusive approach to trade that provides access to benefits and opportunities from international trade and investment to more Canadians who have traditionally been under-represented, including women, SMEs and Indigenous peoples. Canada has also been a strong proponent of the application of Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) to impact assessment, bringing this internationally recognized best practice to all realms of policy-making. Among the first in the world is a dedicated trade and gender chapter included in the modernized Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The trade and gender chapters in the Canada-Chile and Canada-Israel FTAs establish trade and gender committees to oversee cooperation activities and share experiences in designing programs that encourage women’s participation in national and international trade. Canada is also seeking to include gender chapters in FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur. Canada has been a global leader in championing and working with other partners to endorse the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment. The Buenos Aires Declaration was a decisive step, putting trade and gender on the WTO agenda like never before. The Declaration aims to promote women’s economic empowerment and tackle barriers that hamper their participation in global trade. To achieve this, it provides a platform to better understand the links between trade and women’s empowerment. Canada has hosted the first seminar organized under the Declaration, focusing on gender-disaggregated data and gender-based analysis. A number of workshops as well as research and joint studies have been done, and WTO Members championing the Declaration are currently working on its implementation report to be presented at the 12th Ministerial Conference in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in June 2020. The report will look at ways to take this work forward.

    Making global trade inroads for women

    OWIT-Toronto has been supportive of Canada’s commitment in pursuing progressive and inclusive trade that benefits all. It actively engages with the government on the different programs supporting women in international trade, operating as a broker for its members to stay in touch with the latest information about government programs and their accessibility. The government, in turn, has been supportive of OWIT-Toronto’s mission, inviting participation in free trade agreement stakeholder consultations, such as the NAFTA renegotiation, and in ongoing dialogue to ensure that trade policies are better aligned with the interest of all Canadians, including women. The government has also supported trade missions organized by OWIT-Toronto to help expand market access for women. These missions provide excellent opportunities to meet valuable new contacts on the ground and build relationships that lead to new business. For example, in 2019, OWIT-Toronto led a Canadian women’s trade mission in the manufacturing, auto and ICT sectors to Monterrey, Mexico, and participants have since reported business wins.

    Building momentum and trading up

    Women’s economic empowerment has gained traction with governments and key stakeholders around the world. The Buenos Aires Declaration is a testament of this trajectory and, as a result, more WTO members are voluntarily incorporating a trade policy gendered lens in their reports, a 66% increase from 2018. Canada remains a trailblazer in championing inclusive trade on the world stage. Canada’s progressive trade agenda has resulted in a great deal of groundwork in policy making, in enhancing women’s capacity to trade, in creating equal opportunities as well as in providing a level playing field for both men and women. However, gaps still remain in ensuring that women are elevated. The inclusion of trade and gender chapters in FTAs is a positive development. According to trade specialists, this will help to raise awareness of gender equality issues in the trade discourse, and highlight the gaps that still exist. It will encourage broader participation by civil society and the private sector in the implementation of agreements, enhance cooperation between parties to the agreements on issues of immediate relevance to women, and strengthen capacity-building, especially when one party is a developing country. However, these chapters are also light and somewhat aspirational now. Milestones or specific goals are not included, dispute-settlement mechanisms do not apply, and potential impacts of trade liberalization pursued under the agreements on women’s well-being and economic empowerment are not addressed. What can governments do next? Convene public-private consultations to discuss specific actions and goals in parallel with trade agreements to improve women’s participation in trade and their economic impact. Address domestic policies like childcare that can impact women’s ability to expand globally. Encourage CUSMA members to develop a model of cooperation to address trade and gender, e.g., establish a trilateral gender and trade committee, including women entrepreneurs, to share best practices and to define concrete goals. Strengthen efforts to include women and historically underrepresented groups in supply chains through supplier diversity programs. Support capacity building of women by expanding and funding women’s enterprise centres and by sponsoring volunteer-run women’s trade organizations like OWIT. Canada is indeed making waves in its approach to take forward a progressive trade agenda to ensure that more women are engaged in trade and reaping the rewards that come with it. Step-by-step, and in a collective effort, we can ensure that nobody is left behind. Engaging and joining the conversations with OWIT, and other like-minded organizations, means fostering export opportunities for women-owned businesses – an investment in the Canadian economy as a whole. And in an increasingly protectionist world, women represent untapped potential to fuel more trade and be new stakeholders for exporting.

    Susan Baka is VP International, and Justine Namara is Director for the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto chapter (OWIT-Toronto)

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    In honor and celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) – Toronto Chapter partnered with Casa Foundation for International Development, the World Trade Center Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade to host the Women in Business and Leadership Forum. The Forum was focused on supporting women-owned businesses, while empowering women to run businesses through connecting resources (social, capital, human) to ideas, providing a platform to showcase lessons from Canada’s businesswomen and leaders who inspire and empower other women.

    Aligned with the 2020 IWD thematic focus on “Each for Equal: An equal world is an enabled world”, the Forum also served as a knowledge-based learning platform to share successes, best practices, lessons learned, networking, with robust debates on how to cultivate new partners, new relationships and new markets for business growth. Providing welcome remarks, Olutoyin Oyelade, President, Casa Foundation, spoke about her vision for the Women in Business and Leadership Forum, noting, “The Women Inspire Forum is so important when one recalls the gaps in mentorship that women experience and how mentorship and sponsorship can fast-track the journey for other women”.

    Farah Mohamed, Senior VP, Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Public Affairs, at the Toronto Region Board of Trade opened the Forum highlighting the work done by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and World Trade Center Toronto in supporting women entrepreneurs. This included their first all-female Trade Accelerator Program cohort helping women-led or owned businesses create a custom export plan. “If all women were given the opportunity to work in Canada, the GDP would go up by 6%,” she noted. Jill Andrew, MPP, Toronto-St. Paul’s, provided keynote remarks emphasizing the unique opportunity that the IWD celebrations provided in acknowledging and celebrating women and their purpose, as well as challenging the status quo to ensure that innovative women are able to lead, amplify and inspire others especially the young women on the rise in business, trade and entrepreneurship.

    Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, delivered keynote remarks highlighting the outstanding efforts made by the Government of Canada in uplifting women, supporting more inclusive trade agreements and investments in affordable child care. Additionally, the roll out of the first Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2Billion investment to double the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025. “According to a report by the McKinsey Institute, Canada can grow our economy by $150 billion by 2026 by simply including women,” she noted, “And yet, women today still face unique barriers to business success, and they remain underrepresented in our economy – with only 16% of Canadian small businesses owned or led by women, and only 11% of women-owned business currently exporting.”

    Hon. Ng further highlighted the Government’s work during a fireside chat on supporting women in business with Wendy Cukier, Founder, Diversity Institute and Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University. She underscored the Government’s mandate to apply Gender-based Analysis Plus in all decisions made which required analyzing the best way to implement policies and programs based on evidence and an intersectional approach to benefit all Canadians.

    She also elaborated on the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s role in advancing women entrepreneurship in Canada, the set-up of the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to engage women business support organizations across the country (with organizations including OWIT-Toronto); to challenge stereotypes and build awareness of women’s entrepreneurial success; to improve access to financing, talent, networks and expertise; and to promote internationalization and engagement of women in international trade. “Women-owned businesses are still helping to drive the Canadian economy – they represent over $117 billion of economic activity and employ over 1.5 million Canadians.” She noted, adding that, “Investing in women entrepreneurs and fostering export opportunities for women-owned businesses is an investment in the Canadian economy as a whole.”

    OWIT-Toronto President Helen Hemmingsen moderated a case studies session on connecting and enabling women leaders in trade and business. Key takeaways from this session included effective use of trade shows to gain access to new markets, and with support from the Trade Commissioner Service, women entrepreneurs are able to exhibit in foreign trade shows gaining new global markets. An example is Anita Agrawal, CEO, Best Bargains Jewellery. Her business was able to access and thrive in the Tokyo and Seoul markets. Providing further insights, Anita also noted the challenges and opportunities, “It’s hard to navigate as a small business, how can I grow more, how can I export more… networks with other women that support women like OWIT-Toronto and WEConnect Canada are invaluable for peer learning on export strategies, branding and leadership.”

    The full house celebration of the Women Inspire showcase emceed by Emily Mills, Founder, How She Hustles, had a fantastic line-up. With male and female participants from different industries, business, academia, corporate, public and private sectors engaging in interactive panel sessions, a fire side chat and case studies, as well as engaging in fun business games on Kahoot. It was an empowering event, a testament of what happens when women collaborate and connect. The women trailblazers in entrepreneurship and leadership shared many insightful tips on empowering and advancing women in business including in global trade and in leadership. They also recommended practical steps to help forge a more gender-equal world.

    Many thanks to our members for celebrating with us.

  • Monday, March 23, 2020 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    The Women Leadership Expo networking fair hosted by the University of Guelph Humber (UofGH), as part of the 2020 International Women’s Day(IWD) celebrations, marked another successful collaboration with OWIT-Toronto, where students were offered networking and professional development opportunities. Coming into this year's IWD events, celebrating women's achievements and raising awareness against bias felt more meaningful than ever as solidarity touches new peaks every day. By engaging UofGH students, Helen Hemmingsen, Justine Namara, Alina Grigorescu and Ledia Dervishaj of OWIT-Toronto presented our long tradition, global exposure and membership benefits to advance women in the competitive business world.

    In addition, students were encouraged to visit OWIT-Toronto’s website and social media, where they can discover the organization’s initiatives and events and access the free online resources As part of OWIT- Toronto’s efforts of supporting the next generation of women professionals and entrepreneurs, discounted annual membership fees are offered to students to facilitate access to specialized education, training, mentorship and networking.

    OWIT-Toronto has made a tradition of supporting women throughout their unique challenges and opportunities. From sharing real life experiences to presenting new trade challenges, OWIT’s amazing network of leaders has been amplifying the voices from diverse women entrepreneurs and professionals for over 20 years.

  • Monday, March 23, 2020 1:54 PM | Anonymous

    In February, the Government of Canada launched public consultations to seek the views of Canadians on the possible modernization of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). The focus of these consultations is to seek feedback on new areas that could be included in a modernized CUFTA, such as chapters on trade in services, trade and gender, investment, and SMEs, as well as potential updates to existing chapters in order to bring the Agreement up-to-date with Canada’s most recent agreements. WIT-Toronto was invited to make a submission, which was completed in March by Maria Marchyshyn, Advisor to the Board, and Susan Baka, VP International, on behalf of OWIT-Toronto.

    The CUFTA entered into force for Canada on August 1, 2017, eliminating duties on 99.9% of goods imports from Ukraine, and 86.8% of Canadian goods exports to Ukraine. Bilateral merchandise trade has remained strong since entry into force, totalling $346 million in 2018.

    The CUFTA contains a review clause, in which Canada and Ukraine agreed to review the Agreement within two years of entry into force, with a view to adding additional provisions that were not in the original Agreement, including investment and services. In July 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly announced their agreement to expand the CUFTA.

    As part of its Trade Diversification Strategy, Canada has advanced an inclusive approach to trade in its recent free trade agreements – through the inclusion of provisions regarding labour, gender, the environment, Indigenous peoples, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The potential modernization of CUFTA presents an opportunity to add, or improve trade provisions within the existing CUFTA to help ensure that a broad range of stakeholders are able to benefit from the Agreement. Previous modernization negotiations such as the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), and the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) are examples where Canada has successfully sought the addition of inclusive provisions, including those on SMEs and on Trade and Gender.

    Canada is committed to pursuing an inclusive approach to trade in recognition that trade policies and agreements need to respond and contribute more meaningfully to broader economic, social and environmental policy priorities. This means seeking trade policies that are responsible, transparent and inclusive.

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has resulted in a global health crisis posing grave threats to human life, and is having far-reaching consequences of major economic disruptions. In today’s world of globalization and interconnectedness, the spread of the virus has gravely impacted international trade, especially with the regional and global value chain linkages. Efforts to control and quarantine the disease have also resulted in restrictions on travel and public gatherings.

    During these unprecedented times, the first priority is clearly to keep people as healthy and safe as possible. In light of this, OWIT-Toronto will be postponing all planned events for the time being. We thank you for your patience and understanding, and encourage you to visit our website and social media platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter) for any updates, news and trade information.

    The spread of the coronavirus has left businesses around the world counting costs. To mitigate and manage the economic fallout caused by the global pandemic, the Government of Canada has launched a new webpage – offering Canadian businesses a one-stop-shop to navigate the effects on their businesses and operations. This includes information on employee support, financial implications, business travel and events, and doing business in international markets. More information and resources for Canadian businesses is available at the Trade Commissioner Service website.

    Additionally, Export Development Canada has increased their internal capabilities to respond to the concerns of Canadian exporters. More information is available in their FAQs on what Canadian exporters need to know about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and latest press release.

    Toronto Mayor John Tory has also announced an economic task force to ‘help protect Toronto’s economic success in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As we navigate these difficult times, we are wishing everyone good health and well-being.

    The OWIT-Toronto Board of Directors

  • Tuesday, March 03, 2020 4:42 PM | Anonymous

    Women’s trade group launches innovative social media campaign
    Toronto, 3 March 2020

    In commemoration of 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD), the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto (OWIT–Toronto) is launching a social media campaign – Women Inspire – to help change perceptions that entrepreneurial success is typically male dominated and “one size fits all”. The campaign will capture the vibrant work and successes of a variety of women entrepreneurs and professionals and will serve to disrupt the status quo, change the narrative and amplify the voices from diverse women entrepreneurs and professionals.

    Leading the unique social media campaign is past OWIT–Toronto President and CEO, Best Bargains, Anita Agrawal, who is also featured in the inspirational book, “Fearless. Girls with Dreams, Women with Vision”, being launched as part of IWD.

    “As a professor at the School of Business at Centennial College, I often ask my students whom they admire the most and what success means to them,” says Anita. “Many of the students mention wealthy entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk. With this social media campaign, I want to change that. I want my students and other young people to know that success can mean many different things and that women entrepreneurs are leading that change. You can have success as an entrepreneur or in various professions. The scale can vary, and that’s okay.”

    As part of a premier global trade association across the world, OWIT–Toronto is a 20-year-old non-profit professional organization designed to promote women doing business in international trade. Through networking, educational and professional growth opportunities, the organization helps to build members’ expertise in the international trade arena. Members include women entrepreneurs, service providers, trade practitioners, business women involved in international trade as well as students passionate about international trade.

    OWIT–Toronto Co-Founder and Vice President International, Susan Baka, reflects on OWIT’s foundation, noting the need to strengthen women entrepreneurship and engagement in international trade, and to create sustainable businesses.

    Likewise, there was a need to step up and tell women inspiring stories of entrepreneurial and leadership successes. Changing the narrative around what entrepreneurial success looks like with an engendered lens meant having a wider mix of diverse voices.

    “From its inception, OWIT–Toronto has worked to increase the visibility and recognition of women trailblazers in international trade through our prestigious Annual Gala awards,” she says.  “We celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women entrepreneurs and leaders across a variety of industry sectors to inspire and empower other women entrepreneurs, leaders, aspiring leaders and youth.”

    The social media campaign also serves to break up the stereotype tales of labelling women in specific sectors such as retail and personal services industries where profit margins are usually much lower. As part of IWD celebrations, the campaign will promote awareness raising, shining a spotlight on the pivotal role that business and markets can play in advancing gender equality.

    Today, women are leaders in technology and innovation and in the specific sectors such as STEM that were originally perceived as male dominated,” says Helen Hemmingsen, OWIT–Toronto President. “Through OWIT’s global network, you are exposed to a wide range of global business contacts, resources for learning and information from our global community. Through sharing these resources, contacts and promoting sector specific trade missions like in STEM, we are encouraging women and inspiring girls to take advantage of technological transformations and innovations changing our world today.” 

    With the ‘Women Inspire’ social media campaign, OWIT – Toronto joins people around the world who are galvanizing for a future that is gender equal.

    Join the online conversation on twitter using the hashtags #IWD2020 #WomenInspire and following @OWITTORONTO. The social media campaign will also be launched at the Women in Business and Leadership Forum held on 5 March 2020 at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and will be run throughout the year.

    To participate in this social media campaign, contact OWIT – Toronto on twitter @OWITTORONTO, or email: info@owit-toronto.ca or on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/owit-to.

  • Thursday, February 06, 2020 9:50 AM | Anonymous


    The Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) is pleased to announce the recipients of its annual awards. The awards recognize outstanding contributions to the organization and showcase how the winners leverage their passion and dedication to advance women in international trade and business. Awards will be presented at the Gala Dinner (6pm – 10pm) on Thursday May 28th at the OWIT x GroYourBiz “EXCELerate” Conference in Vancouver, Canada. Registration for conference is open now. 

    2019 Woman of the Year

    The Honourable Chrystia Freeland

    Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 2013 and was re‐elected in 2015 and 2019. 

    When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came into power, he appointed her as Canada’s Minister of International Trade, the first woman to ever hold this senior Cabinet position. In this role, she successfully negotiated the signing of the trade agreement with Europe, CETA, in 2017, despite many obstacles, and remains a strong and vocal proponent of free trade. The agreement is touted as a model for contemporary trade agreements. From 2017 to 2019, she served as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    A superstar of Trudeau’s Cabinet, Ms. Freeland was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister in last fall’s election, with responsibility for continuing to oversee the NAFTA renegotiation and Canada’s long‐time and critically important relationship with the US – a strong endorsement of her skills, her deep network and the respect she has garnered. She was Canada’s signatory for the new deal signed with the US and Mexico in December 2019. An esteemed journalist and author, Minister Freeland was born in Peace River, Alberta. She was educated at Harvard University before continuing her studies on a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford. After beginning her career in journalism as a Ukraine‐based freelance reporter for the Financial Times, The Washington Post, and The Economist, she went on to various roles at the Financial Times. She then served as deputy editor of The Globe and Mail between 1999 and 2001, before returning to the Financial Times as deputy editor and then as the United States managing editor. 

    In 2010, she joined Canadian‐owned Thomson Reuters. She was a managing director of the company and editor of consumer news when she decided to return home and enter politics in 2013. Minister Freeland has written two books: Sale of the Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution (2000); and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super‐Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (2012). Plutocrats is an international best‐seller and won the Lionel Gelber Prize and National Business Book Award. 

    In 2018, Minister Freeland was recognized as Foreign Policy's Diplomat of the Year and was awarded the Eric M. Warburg Award by Atlantik‐Brücke for her achievements in strengthening transatlantic ties. Minister Freeland speaks Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, French, and English, and lives in Toronto with her husband and three children. 

    Members of the Year: Deanna Clark‐Esposito & Christyna Doege

    Deanna is the founder of the Clark‐Esposito Law Firm, P.C. with over 15 years of legal experience in the areas of international trade (imports/exports), transportation, maritime and administrative law in the areas of fashion, vape/tobacco, hemp and others. Prior to starting her own law firm, Deanna headed up the global trade compliance regulatory division of a New York City based 3PL, and worked at a well respected international trade law firm. 

    Christyna is the Client Engagement Manager for Port Tampa Bay, the Tampa Port Authority, which calls for communicating clearly with current port tenants and users as well as coordinating and hosting successful port events. With a comprehensive knowledge of port operations; the ability to speak to a wide variety of audiences, mastery of the application and billing of port charges and fees; the interpretation of contracts, tariffs, and leases; and the analysis of port statistics.

    Chapter of the Year: Tampa Bay

    Host of the 19th Annual OWIT International Conference: Year of the Woman, featuring a Tampa Business Day Tour, conference and Awards Dinner. Notable Speakers included Cristina Puig, Dr. Patti Fletcher and Ilya de Marotta. TBOWIT stands on three pillars: networking, education and scholarship. They are ‘enriching Tampa Bay through International Trade’.

    You may see more news and subscribe to OWIT International mailing list here.

  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020 12:33 PM | Anonymous


    OWIT-Toronto partnered in the first women’s cohort of the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) put on by the World Trade Centre in Toronto.

    Packed agenda… full of great speakers and contacts to help women build their export plans and diversify their markets. We were glad to share expertise, along with other partners like Global Affairs Canada, EDC and OWIT-Ottawa.

  • Tuesday, January 07, 2020 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    2019 was a phenomenal year, OWIT-Toronto marked 20 years of promoting women doing

    business internationally.

    In 2019, we expanded the depth of our initiatives, starting off with a business women’s trade mission to Monterrey, Mexico, in February 2019, in the advanced manufacturing sector. Mission participants have since been reporting business wins. In the spring, we partnered with the Asia Pacific Foundation on Doing Business in Japan and participated in Export Development Canada (EDC)’s Stakeholder Forum in Ottawa for national business and industry associations.

    In the Fall, we hosted our 20 th Anniversary Gala and Export Awards which attracted a record number of nominations. We didn’t envy the judges in their tough task of selecting winners. We also engaged in an innovative one-day “Professional Membership Showcase” at the University of Guelph Humber encouraging young women in international trade to join OWIT-Toronto. We continued to participate in forums advocating for gender inclusion in Free Trade Agreements, including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) event in Ottawa. We also joined our colleagues across in Tampa, to celebrate the “Year of the Woman”, an OWIT International event.

    We ended our extraordinary year marking a 20-year operational period with our 20th Annual General Meeting and a Holiday Reception hosted by Bennett Jones, where three outstanding women entrepreneurs gave us tips on export success including insights on successfully building their businesses, accessing and expanding into global markets. 

    Our engagement and involvement in the different initiatives was made possible with many thanks to our partners and sponsors including the Government of Ontario and OWIT Monterrey, Bennett Jones, Jewels4Ever, EDC, Global Affairs Canada and the Diversity Institute/Ryerson University.

    In 2020, a five-year milestone will be reached towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 2020 is therefore a pivotal year to continue to shine a light on women entrepreneurship, women economic empowerment and an inclusive role of women in trade agreements to advance women doing business globally.

    We look forward to working with our partners and sponsors on events and initiatives that bring these themes to fruition. Thank you to everyone for a fantastic year!

    Helen Hemmingsen



  • Tuesday, January 07, 2020 9:45 AM | Anonymous

    In February 2019, I was privileged to have the opportunity to participate in a Canadian trade mission to Monterrey, Mexico with the Organization of Women in International Trade Toronto chapter. The mission was facilitated by the Canadian Trade Commissioners’ Service in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Labour of the State of Nuevo LeónEGADE Business School Technológico de Monterrey, and numerous other organizations. This mission was the first initiative out of an MOU signed by the OWIT-Toronto and OWIT-Monterrey chapters in March, 2017 in the presence of the Canadian Minister of International Trade and the Consul General of Canada in Monterrey.

    The purpose of the mission was to encourage female business owners, professionals, executives and service providers to export and expand globally, and to showcase the contribution of women in international trade and in historically male-dominated industry sectors, in both Mexico and Canada. The 10 delegates participated in conferences and meetings with local industry clusters, government and educational organizations, tours of various research and development facilities, and a visit to the ExpoManufactura trade show. We also had individual business-to-business meetings with potential customers, suppliers and business partners in the Monterrey area of interest to our respective

    organizations. Here are some of my key takeaways from the mission:

    • Women are a historically untapped resource in manufacturing and industrial sectors.

    According to data from the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), women currently represent only between 4.4%-15.7% of jobs in industrial, electrical and construction trades, maintenance, equipment operations, transportation and heavy equipment, and machine operation. Technology and automation have lowered physical barriers to participation, making these industrial roles more accessible for women. Our expanding involvement is key to growth in these areas, in light of growing labour shortages in high skill positions. The challenge is encouraging increased participation by women, through skills training and mentorship as well as promoting these roles and STEM subjects to be seen as desirable career paths for young girls. CME's We Can Do It! Campaign is a step along this road.

    • Mexico, and Monterrey and the State of Nuevo León in particular, is a high value market for Canadian manufacturing businesses to consider expanding into.

    Nuevo León is Mexico’s manufacturing hub, its top destination for foreign direct investment and has the highest GDP per capita. Situated in the north of the country and connected with major North American rail and highway networks, the region has developed dramatically since the advent of the original NAFTA. Its business culture is similar from that of Canada and the United States and the population is highly educated and technically skilled relative to other regions. There are also surprisingly widespread

    levels of English spoken by the workforce, and there are many organizations, both private and public, set up to help foreign investors establish operations in the region. More information about the region is available on the Nuevo León Ministry of the Economy's website.

    • Trade diversification is more important than ever.

    The current uncertain trade climate has sent a clear message that diversification is essential, particularly for businesses with international supply chains or customer base. Mexico has free trade agreements with Canada two times over: under the NAFTA (and its soon-to-be successor USMCA / CUSMA / T-MEC) and, as of December 30, 2018, the CPTPP. The CPTPP in particular opens up opportunities for cross-integration of Canada-Mexico supply chains with partners in Asia. But free trade agreements are only valuable for economies to the extent that businesses use them. The skilled advisors at Bennett Jones can help Canadian importers and exporters explore and leverage the opportunities under these agreements, and to set up the necessary commercial and tax structures to make expanding internationally a smooth and profitable experience.

    Jessica B. Horwitz is an Associate at Bennett Jones.

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