At present, sub-national actors enjoy varied degrees of acceptance within the various frameworks for international trade interactions of their home states. This is mainly due to the reality that there is a growing intersection between sub-national, national and international policy arenas, making the policy space increasingly difficult to delineate neatly. More so, with international norms still opposed to the participation of sub-national actors in the international scene, most of the actions taken by these actors are classified as ‘wholly domestic policies’, which their central governments are mandated to ensure are in conformity with international obligations. This has made the mapping and understanding of sub-national foreign engagement difficult to conceptualise in a coherent manner. Focusing on Belgium and Canada, this paper seeks to ascertain: whether there are any coherent themes deducible in the way we conceptualise emerging patterns of engagement by sub-national actors in international trade relations.