Export Development Canada (EDC), the Canadian ECA, will open a South African office in Johannesburg in 2015.

An EDC spokesperson tells GTR that chief representative Rob Pelletier will run the Johannesburg office and will report to group vice-president of international business development, Todd Winterhalt.

Canadian minister for international trade, Ed Fast, during a 10-day tour of Burkino Faso, Madagascar, South Africa and Tanzania, announced the Johannesburg-based team will focus on connecting Canadian SMEs to growing intra-African supply chains.

“When most Canadian businesses look to South Africa, they see a country so far away they think it’s impossible to trade with it. The EDC will change that,” Fast reportedly said during a media briefing.

He added: “South Africa is Canada’s most important commercial and political partner in Africa. Our government’s recent Global Markets Action Plan, launched in 2013, identifies South Africa as an ‘emerging market with broad Canadian interests’.”

According to Statistics Canada, bilateral trade with South Africa totalled US$1.1bn in 2013, with exports to the country amounting to US$468mn. Canadian exports to South Africa largely consist of power generation and electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and vehicles.