Western Hemisphere Conference

Western Hemisphere Business Conference

On April 18 2012, I had the pleasure of attending the United States Commercial Services sponsored “Western Hemisphere Business Conference” at the Miami Airport Hilton. The conference consisted of a quality packed business day.  Each commercial attaché presented information on their perspective country of expertise. Most if not all live abroad and are very knowledgeable of not only the US market but also the ins and outs of doing business in the perspective countries that they each represented.

There were Embassy Representatives covering Argentina, BrazilCanadaChileColombiaCosta RicaDominican RepublicEl SalvadorMexicoPanamaPeru and the Caribbean.

Each representative discussed the overall business aspect of the country pointing out key sectors of growth as well as government infrastructure improvements, which may lead to opportunities for American product as well as consulting opportunities.

In the last few years this region has greatly benefited from multiple free-trade agreements with the US. These agreements afford American companies the opportunity to expand their business by exporting their products to these countries with minimal or no duties assessed at importation. By minimizing or totally eliminating duties American products become more accessible in these countries thereby allowing US companies to grow their business outside the US borders.

As an example of the overall information, Robert Jones, the representative for the Dominican Republic (DR) provided the below details.  He made an emphasis on the impact that Central America Free Trade Act–Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) has for US companies and its impact on the region.

  • Over 70% of consumer goods imported into the Dominican Republic are from the US.
  • Tariffs were removed on 80% of US good under CAFTA-DR.

The Dominican Republic is a friendly US supporter with few import restrictions and minimal labeling and testing challenges.

The following  are the top and best prospects sector opportunities for US exporters for the Dominican Republic.:

  • Building sector
  •  Telecommunication Equipment
  • Services and support for tourism and travel
  • Automotive parts
  • Service equipment
  • Computer peripherals
  • Air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment products

A key component of the conference took place the following day. Conference attendees could set up a one-on-one meeting with the individual embassy at cachet of the country or countries they were targeting for growth opportunities. The meetings were approximately 20 min. and you were free to ask general as well as specific questions. Many companies took advantage of the expertise and willingness to assist by from these knowledgeable professionals.

US Commercial Services is tasked with growing US exports and these conferences are a key component.  I will be sharing with all of you some key destination country information that was presented at the conference over the next few weeks.

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