International Trade Representatives Meet with Lehigh Valley Companies
By Colin McEvoy on September 23, 2022
International business investment representatives from nearly four dozen markets around the world visited the Lehigh Valley this week to speak one-on-one with regional businesses and share their insights about exporting and other foreign market intelligence.
Twelve of Pennsylvania authorized trade representatives attended Bringing the World to Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley’s premier international trade event, which was held on Sept. 22 at Lehigh University’s Iacocca Conference Center.
“It was exciting to bring our trade representatives from across the world back to Bethlehem to meet with a diverse range of Lehigh Valley businesses,” said Andrea Hampton, Program Director, International Trade at the Lehigh University Small Business Development Center, which organized the event. “This year’s event saw a number of new faces to Bringing the World to Pennsylvania and valuable interactions with our supporters and sponsors.”
Pennsylvania’s network of authorized trade representatives are stationed all around the world, speaking regularly with international companies in other countries and actively encouraging them to establish U.S. operations in the Commonwealth.
During the Sept. 22 event, these representatives were able to provide their unique perspective to representatives from Lehigh Valley companies about how to grow in countries where they already export, as well as how to expand their reach into new markets.
“During COVID, it was hard to communicate with Pennsylvania companies,” said Min Lee, Pennsylvania’s authorized trade representative for South Korea, who was attending his second Bringing the World to Pennsylvania event in the Lehigh Valley.
“We could communicate via email and phone, but there are limits to that type of communication,” Lee said. “It’s very nice and very helpful to talk to Pennsylvania companies in-person. For both Pennsylvania companies and the global representatives, it’s maximum synergy.”
Attendees were also able to discuss such topics as agent and distributor candidates, industry and government contacts, on-the-ground assistance abroad, and insights about the business, social and political environment of the representatives’ counties and regions.
“This is a great event, and it’s a great opportunity for companies to meet experts,” said Pavlina Becvarova, Pennsylvania’s authorized trade representative for Central and Eastern Europe, who was attending her sixth Lehigh Valley event. “Our task is to open doors of opportunity for them.”
The 12 trade representatives at the event represented 44 markets across the world, located in nations including Austria, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) was a sponsor for the event.
“The international network in the Lehigh Valley is growing,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. “Many of our prospects are from European countries, and we thank the trade representatives for their work because they are the front lines in helping to bring that investment into the United States, into Pennsylvania, and ultimately into the Lehigh Valley.”
Additionally, LVEDC has helped organize a presentation during the event about the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) incentive program, which helps companies improve cash flow, increase global logistics efficiency, and reduce redundant or unnecessary logistics costs.
Rebecca Williams, Managing Director at Rockefeller Group Foreign Trade Zone Services, discussed FTZs, which are physical locations within a United States custom territory where merchandise receives the same treatment as if it were outside the commerce of the U.S.
By establishing an FTZ at its facility, a business can defer, reduce or altogether eliminate their customs duties and other tariffs or taxes. LVEDC is the grantee and license holder for the Lehigh Valley’s FTZ, making it the conduit through which regional companies can benefit from it.
“It’s a big program, a lot of merchandise moves through FTZs in the United States annually, and it’s important to understand how it can benefit companies in your region,” Williams said.
More than $835 billion in merchandise flows through the FTZ program annually, she said. Seven companies in the Lehigh Valley utilize the region’s FTZ, including BMW, Geodis Logistics, Goodyear, Grundfos Pumps, Piramal Critical Care, Primark, and Sharp Packaging.
The Lehigh University SBDC is a member of the Pennsylvania Network of Small Business Development Center, whose mission is to provide entrepreneurs and small business owners with the knowledge needed to make smart decisions and prosper.
Lehigh University’s SBDC has served small businesses in Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks, and Montgomery counties since 1978. It annually consults with over small businesses and provides free consulting to businesses in all stages of development, from pre-venture to mature.
The Lehigh SBDC is also home to the Lehigh Export Network (LEXNET), which is one of 10 regional export networks in Pennsylvania. Regional export networks provide manufacturers and service firms with export development services, including market research, market entry strategy development, technical support, and access to grants and financing programs.
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