Trade Missions; Multitool to International Development

“Trade missions like this (Trade Winds 2016) allow for US Manufacturers like us to develop international contacts and leads while building good working alliances.” – Sun Surveillance, Spartanburg SC

Have you ever asked yourself, “what are these “trade missions” I keep hearing about? What would I get out of participating? And is it the right tool for my company’s international growth?” If so, read on. If not, maybe it’s time to ask yourself those questions.

So, what is a trade mission? U.S. Department of Commerce defines trade missions as overseas programs for U.S. firms that wish to explore and pursue export opportunities by meeting directly with potential clients in their markets. But here are the trade mission features that make these programs stand out from searching for potential foreign partners on your own.

   PREPARATION – Interested U.S. companies receive an assessment of the mission stops’ market potential specific to their needs by in-country specialists with extensive network of contacts in company’s industry. If it is identified that there is no market potential, the specialist will not recommend the company participate in the mission. If there is potential in several stops, the level of opportunity can be gauged to help the company make a decision which stops to choose.

   INSIGHT – Once the company is confident that there is receptive environment in the mission’s target markets and commits to joining the mission, they will receive market guidance from the organizers: pre-travel briefing and preliminary, followed by final, report of the meetings scheduled for them when they arrive in country.

   CONFIDENCE – When sitting across the table from or visiting the site of a potential partner as part of the “one-on-one business matchmaking appointments with pre-screened potential buyers, agents, distributors, or joint venture partners” portion of the mission, both parties are secure in the legitimacy of each other’s business and can focus on building a strong lasting business relationship.

   NETWORKING – Mission participants will attend market briefings, site visits and networking receptions. Since Trade Missions gain the attention of local/national government representatives, business leaders, and media in international markets, the U.S. companies can make the right connections in a casual setting.

But, you may wonder, what about all the other trade missions? Can local government organizations or business associations work with U.S. Department of Commerce to provide the same quality of service and leverage the global network spanning over 70+ countries?

Absolutely. Now we are talking about Certified Trade Missions.

U.S. Department of Commerce Certified Trade Missions (CTMs) are overseas events planned, organized, recruited, and led by private and public-sector export-oriented groups outside of the U.S. Department of Commerce. CTMs are hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s overseas Commercial Service offices. CTMs bring representatives of U.S. companies into contact with potential agents, distributors, joint venture partners, licensees, local businesses, and government contacts.

CTMs typically include the following:

  • One-on-one business appointments
  • Market briefings
  • Networking receptions
  • Selective sessions on local business practices, site visits, or seminars
  • Media coverage

U.S. Commercial Service posts in the targeted markets provide guidance to the sponsoring organization (the organizer) and the participating companies. As you can see, the features are consistent, but each organizing organization is able to customize their program to fit their needs and the needs of the businesses they are taking on their mission.  


Sounds too good to be true? We started this article with a quote from a company right here in South Carolina and there are many more testimonials from U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Mission participants sharing their experience in leveraging the intelligence, the networking opportunities and prescheduled meetings with qualified businesses to achieve success in the new market or expanding their business.  Here are a few:

  • By allowing U.S. government to organize the program and identify the best partners for your business, you save time and money and can focus on preparing the best pitch for the B2B appointments pre-scheduled for you.
  • Networking doesn’t stop with B2B meetings. Missions incorporate networking opportunities, where you connect with local business, government and other trade-focused organizations as well as your fellow mission participants who might have insights you need in this or other markets.
  • Face to face interaction and investing your time in getting to know the people, culture and economic environment of their market is a powerful signal to your potential partners of your commitment to pursue business in their country.

So, why would you wait to use the tools available to you? Now can be the time for you to unlock the global sales opportunities by going on a trade mission.

The 2019 signature trade mission, Trade Winds, is taking U.S. business to seven states in India, with potential additional stops in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The program will include a forum in New Delhi, various networking opportunities, appointments with diplomats from Indo-Pacific region and one-on-one appointments with pre-screened potential buyers, agents, distributors and joint-venture partners.

The best thing? If your REGISTER now, you will enter the PREPARATION stage, where you will receive feedback on your company’s market potential for the nine potential missions stops. Only after analyzing their market, will our specialist make recommendations on whether you should join Trade Winds 2019 and which stops you should consider traveling to.

If you wish to learn more about past mission success stories, you can find them HERE.

Trade Winds Mexico 2011 generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new client purchases for our company.  Not even a year in the making, Grovara LLC was speed-lined to the front of the exporting industrial pack – The US Government helped make our business what it is today.” Grovara LLC

About the Author:
Anastasia Mukherjee
Senior International Trade Specialist | South Carolina
U.S. Commercial Service


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