U.S. companies looking to export to Southeast Asia were recently able to get a detailed look at opportunities in the region thanks to a two-day event in Baltimore, Maryland. It served as a prelude to a trade mission to the region that the Department of Commerce is leading in May 2012.
Paul Matino is an international trade specialist, and Christopher Goudey an intern, in the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
A recent visit to Indonesia by President Barack Obama was a clear indication of the economic importance of Southeast Asia. The region, which includes 10 countries that are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is the United States’ fourth largest export market. Overall, it is the world’s ninth largest economy.
In order to help U.S. companies tap into this burgeoning market, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS), a unit of the International Trade Administration, is organizing a trade mission to Southeast Asia on May 14–22, 2012. Called “Trade Winds—Asia,” the nine-day program will enable U.S. companies to meet with USFCS representatives from 14 different Asian markets, as well as conduct business-to-business meetings in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
To offer a preview to companies contemplating participating in Trade Winds—Asia, the USFCS recently welcomed more than 75 companies to the “Southeast Asia Now Business Conference” that was held November 9–10 in Baltimore, Maryland. The two-day event was hosted by the Baltimore Export Assistance Center and attracted participants from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. It featured nearly 30 speakers representing government agencies, the private sector, and trade associations.
Among the presenters was the keynote speaker, Marc Mealy of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. Other featured speakers at the event included current and former USFCS commercial officers in Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand.
Aside from presentations, conference attendees were able to participate in interactive Exportech workshops, which assessed export readiness and helped provide guidance to exporters with respect to decisions about market suitability. They were also able to take part in one-on-one consultations with export counselors to discuss immediate export opportunities and financing options.
Realities of Doing Business
Attendee Gary Hall of Immediate Response Technologies of Glenn Dale, Maryland, found that the event was an excellent opportunity to learn about the realities of doing business in Southeast Asia. “The information was extremely helpful in providing me [with] pertinent facts on many Southeast Asia countries where our company is looking to expand our business. The economic facts and cultural nuances presented will be extremely valuable to [us] as we move forward.”
Southeast Asia Now was organized with the support of a number of other organizations, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Maryland-D.C. District Export Council, and the World Trade Center Institute.
For More Information
Trade Winds—Asia is a nine-day trade mission that will make stops in five countries in Southeast Asia. It will be led by a senior Department of Commerce official. Applications to participate will be accepted until March 30, 2012. Visit the Trade Winds forum for complete information regarding the application process, fees, and itinerary.