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Look Beyond Our Borders for Opportunity

Benjamin WuBusinesses throughout the state of Maryland should explore international trade opportunities or risk falling behind in the 21st century global economy.

That was the message offered at the International Development Forum, held at and sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus.The event brought together experts on international trade, who offered pointers on how people could expand their businesses abroad and talked about the role of exports in Maryland’s economy.

“In this increasingly competitive global economy, where companies can, and do, locate virtually anywhere, it is imperative that we look beyond our borders for opportunity,” said Benjamin Wu, deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “Our state can grow by allowing direct foreign investments and allowing exports.”

Wu, recently appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan to serve as deputy secretary of the state’s economic development agency, talked about the governor’s focus on economic development and competitiveness. DBED, Wu said, can help guide, assist and provide resources to companies to allow them to think and act globally and to win in a global economy.

According to DBED, more than 7,300 businesses export from Maryland. In 2013, Maryland companies exported nearly $12 billion in goods and $9 billion in services to more than 200 countries. Maryland’s top export markets are Canada, Saudi Arabia, China, the United Kingdom and Mexico. Maryland has foreign trade offices in 12 countries, including China, India, Taiwan, Israel and Brazil.

Yet only 3 percent of Maryland companies actively market products and services overseas, Wu said.

“We can and we must change that, or risk falling behind as a state and as a nation,” Wu said.

Approximately 95 percent of the world’s consumers reside outside of the United States, said Jennifer Pilat, director, Advocacy Center at the U.S. Department of Commerce. That’s why companies should look outside of the United States for opportunities to grow and develop.

The International Trade Forum featured panels on finding opportunities and working with development clients; building a winning team; compliance issues; security concerns and tricks of the trade. Experts from several agencies offered this advice, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Agency for International Development, Inter-American Development Bank and U.S. Department of State.

Approximately 80 people attended the event, organized by the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Montgomery County's Department of Economic Development.

The event helped businesses make the right connections, find the resources they need and understand how to overcome challenges regarding international development.

CATEGORY: In The Community