Leaving Cincinnati on a Sunday I would start the toughest part of my journey, four cities in five days. Arrived very late Sunday night in Baltimore via Minneapolis due to cancellation of the original direct flight. The BRIC program started first thing Monday morning at a downtown hotel and featured an excellent keynote address by our Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion, Suresh Kumar, followed by individual country plenary presentations on each of the four markets, and then concurrent breakout sessions on more specific aspects of doing business in these markets by successful US companies; a great program all in all, with over 100 business participants.
As noted earlier, these types of business outreach programs are put together by our outstanding domestic field and their local partners, in this case the Baltimore U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) and the state of Maryland. Again, all I had to do was show up. Baltimore is a great venue for these types of programs because of its proximity to Washington, which makes it easy to bring in senior U.S. Department of Commerce management, our Market Access and Compliance country desk officers and Commerical Service Regional Directors; quite a formidable array of U.S. government resources all brought together to support our US business clients in a very practical and informative format.
As usual, the local USEAC set up meetings for me at the hotel with individual local companies interested in the Russian market, so after my presentation to the larger group and before hopping on a plane for my next city, I met with two local firms. One company, an experienced manufacturer and distributor of dental products with lots of international sales, was already established in Russia and was coming to me for advice on a problem with their exclusive Russian distributor. This is a pretty typical case for many US firms that come our way and we always try to do our best to help them out. The issue involved counterfeit products of the US company showing up in Russia, which was hurting legitimate sales. Intellectual property rights (IPR) is a big issue in Russia and one in which we are well equipped to assist, since we have a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Attache that sits in our FCS office in Moscow and a Russian IP attorney on staff. I put the US firm in touch with our IPR staff in Moscow along with our Commercial Specialist who covers the medical sector, so they will be in good hands.
The second company was a well established manufacturer from Pennsylvania that sold duct work accessories into the HVAC sector in a number of foreign markets. They have had some passive export sales to Russia, but really wanted to do much more. I had a feeling we could really help this company so that day I put them in touch with our Moscow Commercial Specialist who covers this sector in order to start a dialogue and also looped in our Pittsburgh USEAC, which has worked with this company in the past. Looking ahead to possible trade promotion opportunities, I let this firm know about a proposed energy efficiency trade mission to Russia later this year that the US Dept of Energy is planning with support from our agency. This could be an interesting market entry vehicle for the company since the mission would be designed to bring Russian firms to the US and then take US firms to Russia in order consummate in-depth, long lasting business relationships.
Next stop Cleveland.