Excerpted article written by David Israelson | Globe and Mail

As our oil industry copes with slumping prices and the manufacturing sector still struggles, Canadians may be failing to notice one of the most promising global export stories – the huge growth potential in selling services.

“We really think it’s an area that’s poorly understood,” says Danielle Goldfarb, associate director of the Global Commerce Centre at the Conference Board of Canada.

“There’s very little discussion of the fact that Canada sells a lot of services into global markets. There’s often an image of burger-flipping jobs, but the services we’re selling are really associated with high wages – financial services, insurance, computer services and engineering and technology, where Canada is a world leader.”

The idea of selling services is straightforward. It can be either a sale of expertise or advice, such as legal counsel or business expertise, or a service combined with an initial sale of goods.

In the latter case, the growth comes from the potential long-term relationship that can develop.

For example, it is one thing if a company such as Bombardier Inc. sells its new C Series jets to foreign airlines, which the company seeks to do at the key Paris Air Show starting June 15. Equally, or perhaps even more, important are the long-term service and maintenance contracts that come with sales of sophisticated equipment such as jets.

The same type of added value applies to knowledge exports such as information technology and financial-service management, Ms. Goldfarb says.

“When you look at our exports over the past decade, three of the top five categories are in commercial services.” These are: finance and insurance, management service and computer and information services. “They’re growing much more rapidly than our exports of our products,” she says.

READ MORE HERE: Why just sell a jet when you can also sell service contracts?

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