By Scott Ferguson
As Chief Executive Officer of an organization with a mission of growing trade, I often get asked a multitude of questions pertaining to the state of global commerce. The inquiries always revolve around the latest headline out of one country or another, or the most recent election, or just my take on the state of economic cooperation around the world.
But no matter the question my answer always stays the same: At the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) we remain focused on one thing—our network.
This may seem selfish, or like we don’t care about the news. But this is not the case. Far from it. It is because the common thread that runs through our association of 300-plus members in nearly 100 countries, is stronger and more consequential than any one lurch in the ever-changing, seesawing nature of trade policy. Because our members often play a critical role in the local, regional and national economies where they are based, the WTCA and its membership roster are frequently in a position to bridge the divides that form from one administration to the next. Our relationships with one another are the bedrock of our organization. This network empowers each of us to continue to enrich our local communities, regardless of the coming or receding political storms.
Being a global organization made up of businesses as diverse as our members comes with challenges, for certain. But being able to call on fellow World Trade Centers from Bogota to Belfast, and Boston to Beijing, in a climate that often feels unstable, is the true value of WTCA Membership. And it is why now, more than ever, relationships matter.
Scott Ferguson is Chief Executive Officer of the World Trade Centers Association.
This article was originally published in the USA Trade Guide.
The State International Development Organizations (SIDO), a national organization focused on supporting the international trade agendas of the U.S. states and territories, has taken a leading role in developing a State and Federal Export Promotion Coordination Working Group.
SIDO, an affiliate of The Council of State Governments, helps state international trade agencies better serve American exporters by sharing innovative ideas and resources, and developing policies that help more small businesses export. International trade and export promotion are integral components of state economic development strategies.
In testimony before the House Small Business Committee in 2017, Ann Pardalos, manager of the International Trade and Investment Office for the State of Missouri and a past president of SIDO, underscored the importance of the states and federal government working together to help U.S. small businesses start or increase their exports. “State trade agencies understand they cannot do everything by themselves, and we greatly appreciate the support and partnership of our federal trade partners,” she said. “Each one of our agencies play an important role in helping to secure that final sale.”
In particular, said Pardalos, the State Trade and Expansion Promotion (STEP) grant program is indicative of how state and federal programs can work together. “The STEP grant program has been an important bridge to increase the coordination and communication between state and federal trade agencies— particularly with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the International Trade Administration,” said Pardalos.
No one state trade office is exactly the same. Each state works with a unique set of state and federal resources including: U.S. Export Assistance Centers, Small Business Development Centers, and Export-Import Bank regional offices.
For more information, read the USA Trade Guide online.