April 28, 2011

Judy Reinke is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s Senior Commercial Officer in India.

Hello from Houston, which has been the site of this year’s ACCESS 2011 conference, the largest trade promotion program of the U.S. Commercial Service focused on opportunities in the Africa, Near East and South Asia region. Well over 200 companies joined this two day conference to learn all about business practices and prospects in these fast-growing, yet challenging markets. The event featured fresh insights from 18 Senior Commercial Officers based in such key markets as South Africa, India, Nigeria, the UAE and others, as well as lively presentations from experts who have succeeded in doing business throughout this region and representatives of other U.S. Government agencies, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Adminstration. The personal experiences shared by the Senior Commercial Officers in Egypt and Libya, who lived through the recent revolutions in those countries, held the crowd spellbound and helped the audience understand the depth of insight they can gain from all of the officers located in these markets in transition. A highlight of the speaker program was a keynote address by the Director General of the U.S. Commercial Service, Suresh Kumar, who described how the U.S. Government is coordinating efforts to help U.S. business achieve their exporting goals, and thereby meet the objectives of President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

I’m Judy Reinke, representing the U.S. Commmercial Service in India, and I can tell you that there was a huge amount of interest in exporting among the participating U.S. firms, which was extremely encouraging to those of us who are committed to helping our companies increase America’s exporting profile in order to create and sustain jobs in this country. While at the ACCESS conference, I not only joined several Commercial Service colleagues at the podium, speaking to a packed ballroom about the India market, but I also the opportunity to meet privately with 18 companies with specific questions about how the Commercial Service could help them with their market entry strategy and other business issues in India. I was impressed with the qualifications of these firms, many of whom are ready to export (and a few who are already in India, and looking to expand). One firm want to know how best to ensure the qualifications of a firm with whom they may enter into an assembly agreement, shipping core components from the United States – I had the opportunity to describe the International Company Profile that my office can carry out to provide background on the India firm, including information on the firm’s financial standing based on public records and a reputation check with key contacts carried out by my staff. This is an important component of due diligence that helps U.S. firms make an informed decision before entering into an agreement with an Indian firm. Several firms, including companies in fields as diverse as the defense equipment and fashion industry, were interested in finding partners to represent them in India. That is a core expertise of the staff in all of the Commercial Service offices located in 77 countries abroad. The local staff, using their extensive database of business contacts, carry out partner searches – either in the form of an International Partner Search (carried out on behalf of the U.S. client firm without the need for travel to the country) or a Gold Key Appointment Service (a targeted appointment service for U.S. business visitors which has been our flagship service for the last 20 years). I’m sure several of the firms I talked to will be in the Indian market before this year is out!

The feedback I got form the firms I talked to during ACCESS 2011 was tremendous. Many are ready to enter new markets NOW, and I know my staff back in India are eager to work with them. As for me, Houston has proven to be a city with huge export potential, and I hope I’ve helped a number of companies there plan out the next steps in their exporting strategy. Now, I’m ready to move on to New Orleans, where I have more firms to meet and a chance to meet with a business delegation from India. I look forward to sharing my experiences from this next stop on my whirl-wind trip very soon!

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