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The benefits of trade missions
To be able to effectively compete in the global market, companies need to be guided to understand the benefits of expanding into international markets. Trade missions are an excellent tool to achieve this goal. This is true especially in a context where not many companies consider themselves really ready for a new market without making an overseas trip. A visit to the market is an excellent occasion to develop an understanding and get a feeling of the prospective trading climate in the chosen country. To this end, trade missions – international business trips for a group of exporters or entrepreneurs looking for potential subcontractors or joint venture opportunities – are organized by various governmental agencies like chambers of commerce and industry. These missions provide a unique opportunity for the businessmen who join to explore the respective market and meet face to face with international business partners.
Trade missions also aim to develop new areas of trade and build on traditional strengths. If a trade mission is organized in Turkey, besides a general "Why Turkey" session, tips for doing business in Turkey and coverage of various sectors will be presented and in most cases attractive areas for investment as well as privatization programs will be highlighted. In a typical program, participants in a trade mission benefit from individual matchmaking programs and tailored visit programs.
Significant exposure and publicity is provided to participant companies in the trade mission. In addition to the mass media coverage, brochures containing individual company's objectives for the visit and details of each participant are produced. These are circulated widely in the target market and are sent to local press contacts.
Networking opportunities is another highlighted area. Usually, the reception hosted by the ambassador of the visiting country is a very useful event for participants to know each other and invite prospective clients or existing contacts. Furthermore, there is a possibility for knowledge transfer and shared intelligence within the mission group. The horizontal focus of the missions allows participants to meet companies across a wide range of industries, share experiences and learn from others about doing business in target markets.
Impact on host country
Trade missions have considerable impact on the host country as well. By increasing the volume of trade and fostering competition, they help grow the national economy, create jobs in-country and increase the international presence of the country in question.
Another advantage that is worth mentioning is the cost dimension of trade missions. In many cases, due to official subsidies or economies of scale, companies benefit financially from participation in a trade mission. No doubt, it is a quite efficient and relatively cheap method to get an understanding of the dynamics in a specific market. From this perspective, trade missions even remind me of Wal-Mart's motto: "Save money – Live better." Having said that, I would like to emphasize the cultural aspect of trade missions. Indeed, trade missions help break the ice between nations, as we have rightfully witnessed last month within the relations of Turkey and Greece. After the meeting of the political leaders of the two countries, a business forum was organized and significant number of businessmen attended the meetings to take advantage of the reviving economic relations with our neighbor. Thus, trade missions allow individual companies not only to learn about the country and understand the way business is done, but also learn about the cultural differences, business manners and attitudes in general.
In a nutshell, if organized effectively, trade missions have a galvanizing effect on economies. By introducing companies to international business and connecting businesses across the globe, these missions facilitate trade of goods and services. No wonder, frequent trade mission programs to BRIC (Brasil, Russia, India, China) countries as well as to other emerging markets like ours is on the agenda of many developed countries, like the Netherlands, U.K., Germany and Italy. These nations had well realized that they cannot succeed without tapping into the opportunities in emerging markets. It is a fact that our future is intimately tied with their future, but also increasingly vice versa.
NOTE: Nese Yahya is the managing director of Expatia, a company providing services to foreigners who wish to settle in Turkey and foreign companies who invest here. www.expatia.net