Does anyone really just export or invest these days?

Christelle Maffre | 09 Jun 2016 | US Perspective

Does anyone really just export or invest these days?

We are less than a month away from SelectUSA 2016. Several thousand of the world’s most internationally minded companies will descend on Washington DC to join the third annual SelectUSA conference, run by the US Government’s federal agency that helps attract investment to the US. Over 40 countries will be represented and the diversity of their delegations will showcase how companies of all sizes – from startups to multinationals – will be looking at the USA as a place to do business and will be a fine example of the blurring of lines between Exports and Foreign Direct Investment.

OCO Global has helped Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) and International Promotion Agencies (IPAs) from all over the world to deliver hundreds of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and international expansion projects. While our FDI brand is very strong, much less well known is our experience supporting the rise of the multinational SME and our expertise in supporting international sales across global markets. We have been actively helping companies investigate and undertake business development across major markets through market studies, distributor/customer searches and trade missions to top shows, for many years. While the Select conference is focused on investment, the reality is that the first step to any company investing in a country is understanding the potential value of the market. Once clear on this they can embark on wining business. Investment tends to be the icing on the cake that shows there is a healthy business to nurture. OCO Global is available to support across the full internationalization spectrum.

One reason that the lines between trade (exports) and investment are blurring is that globalization has led to global supply chains in regional markets serving customers across much less visible national borders. Trade deals have made a big difference. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could help level the playing field even more between the US and EU, just as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will do the same between the US and Pacific Rim countries. This should produce even more examples of companies investing in a region, like the US, and then using it as a base to export to other markets, which is what the organizers of SelectUSA hope to achieve, besides investment for growth in the US market.

Despite trade deals making market entry easier, companies still have much work to do before investing. It is our strong understanding of global business trends and local opportunities they value most as this helps accelerate their assessment of a market. Our 6 offices around the world, and partners in another 8, give us deep and wide relationships on the ground that give us the edge in supporting your international sales and growth. Business is global and our company has become more global too. Our work helping agencies attract investment in one country and then supporting exports to the very same country has great synergy and serves to compliment those established networks.

At SelectUSA we expect a significant number of EDOs to be present. They know meeting delegates can lead to major investments (one agency told me that last year they met an investor in the coffee line at the event who is about to invest $100m) but they also realize it’s a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. It is hard to know who is serious about investing or who is still exploring the US market. OCO Global have a suite of services that can support the selection of the best companies to connect with and recently developed Velociti, an online business intelligence platform which identifies the most dynamic and expanding companies for export and foreign investment. We also provide foreign direct investment lead generation, economic development consulting, international representation, and global market research services.

I am proud to say OCO Global will be exhibiting at SelectUSA and we will be talking to EDOs about how to target potential investors from around the world, as well as helping foreign companies accelerate their US market entry, as we already do for companies from the UK on the behalf of the UK (UKTI) and Northern Irish (INI) governments. We recently also became a provider for global bank Santander Bank to get their customers exporting more. Delivering these services means we have, over the years, become adept at spotting serious investment prospects. Fifteen years of kissing frogs has taught us a lot about which prospects will be high value and which should be avoided, be that for exporters or investment agencies.

Good luck to everyone attending SelectUSA2016 and I look forward to seeing you at the conference. Please come by our booth #411 and say hello.