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Speaking to the States: Hot topics from SIDO

Joe Hepworth – 18 Dec, 2017 – US Perspective

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Economic development experts from over 35 US states were in Las Vegas last week for the SIDO (State International Development Organisation) meeting.  I was pleased to attend, representing OCO, as one of SIDO’s key long-term sponsors.

Whilst I subscribe to the ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ credo, there were some interesting developments that I can report.

Foremost amongst these is the fluid political landscape across the USA.  I believe that around 30 states are holding gubernatorial elections in 2018 and this obviously provides a challenge for the Economic Development Organisations with regards to long term horizons and planning.

On the national level, proposed changes to NAFTA were also discussed at length and are a significant concern for many states given the importance of north-south trade with Canada & Mexico, both of whom had senior government delegate speaking, attesting to NAFTA’s core significance to them too.  How this pans out over the coming months will be vital.

Perhaps because of these uncertainties, it’s clear that the states’ appetite for international outreach, representation and lead generation for both exports and inward investment is more important than ever.

With Brexit looming, the discussion centered around the ability to cover the UK from continental Europe (and visa-versa) and how this would need to be managed in future.

For the Middle East, the states are seeing opportunities in key sectors like healthcare, energy, technology, aerospace & manufacturing and want to engage.  The economic diversification narrative that is unfolding across the Middle East planning for a non-oil future is compelling, as are the prospects for US companies to engage in these developments.  With OCO’s Middle East office in Dubai and active role in Saudi Arabia working with SAGIA, we are well positioned to support their interests and demands in this region.