By Christopher N. Smith, an attorney located in Macon, Georgia.
What is the first picture you think of when you hear the term “Global Commerce”? For many, visions of CEO’s touching down in their Gulf stream jets in glamorous capitals of the world come to mind. Global commerce is indeed an integral part of many corporate business plans. It is a source of revenue that fuels economies across the planet. However, its reach extends far beyond jet-setting executives. Small and medium-sized companies can participate as well.
Both exporting and global investment have flourished in recent years. A review of data provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce indicates that US exports have increased by an approximate 200% from 2003 to 2013. Similarly, imports to the United States have increased by an approximate 180% during this time period. Part of this rapid increase in trade can be attributed to many small and mid-sized companies who are exporting for the first time.
The establishment of foreign subsidiaries is no longer the exclusive domain of the Fortune 500. Like exporting, many small to medium-sized companies have entered the mix and established operations beyond their shores when an attractive market has been identified.
Despite many successes of new players in the global arena, there still is a vast untapped potential. Many companies and entrepreneurs have yet to explore the potential of going global. In order to tap into this potential, new partnerships should be explored.
The first inclination of many in global trade and investment is to target the well-known cities of the world. While some find success in such markets, a higher cost of doing business as well as a high density of established competitors can pose a challenge. Savvy globalists are wise to seek out new markets not only in the developing world but also in areas of the developed world that have been overlooked by competitors. Perhaps markets such as Kaohsiung, Taiwan or Montevideo, Uruguay might be potentially better markets for these companies. It of course depends on the product and the demand.
At first glance, the State of Georgia and Republic of Montenegro do not appear to have much in common. However, in 2013 Georgia ranked first among US states in exports to Montenegro. One company that has benefitted from such out of the box thinking is Danish-based Steff Hotdogs. They chose Korea as the location of their first foreign franchised restaurants. It is innovative partnerships such as these that are driving the increase in global trade and investment. A bright future lies ahead for those who can successfully seek out and capitalize on such relationships.
Tourism is another essential part of global commerce. The creative have built new niches beyond traditional tourism to include such subgroups as eco-tourism, agro-tourism and architectural tourism.
International education is also a huge economic generator. The US hosts an approximate 819,644 international students. This spending supports an estimated 312,975 jobs and close to $24 billion in spending. Many institutions of higher learning are positioning themselves to capitalize on this opportunity. Upon taking the helm of the Fort Valley State University as its new president last year, Dr. Ivelaw Griffith charted a global course for the campus. A Global Initiatives Council consisting of numerous foreign consuls and prominent business leaders was formed to advise the school on international issues and help recruit students. In addition, a decision was made to start a soccer program to compete on the intercollegiate level. The hope being that the “beautiful game” will be an attraction to entice more foreign students.
Similarly, technical colleges are embracing global opportunities. In January 2014, Central Georgia Technical College established the position of Director of Global Initiatives. Rick Hutton who serves in this capacity has already inked deals to bring new students to the college from Tunisia and Columbia.
The ever-changing landscape of global commerce holds promise for trailblazers willing to explore new markets. So, be bold and think global.
 Williams, Trevor, “Foreign Students spend $500 Million in Georgia,” Global Atlanta, November 12, 2013.
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