Foreign trade experts make visit to Tacoma

The International Trade Division, of the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, paid a visit to Tacoma Wednesday as part of its annual International Trade Week.

Foreign office representatives from Asia, Europe and North America turned out for the World Trade Center Tacoma-hosted event held at the Tacoma Club.

Larry Williams, International Trade Division assistant director, said there were three primary reasons for coming to Tacoma: 1) learning more about the city and the region, including an earlier meeting with Port of Tacoma officials 2) delivering information about the International Trade Division’s services available to Washington companies and 3) meeting one-on-one with companies interested in entering international markets or expanding their market share abroad.

“We always love coming to Tacoma,” Williams said. “It’s always a great response.”

There were 215 appointments with 110 local companies scheduled, he said.
“We’re working with new compan-ies, as compared to last year,” he said. “All appointment slots are full.”

Following lunch, the six foreign trade representatives on hand made presentations, offering economic and political overviews of their respective countries and regions, as well as tips for doing business in those parts of the world.

Timm Tuttle, Washington State Japan Office representative, pointed out Japan is the state’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 25 percent of the state’s export markets, in the amount of $4.34 billion.

“For this reason, it is a huge and positive trading partner,” Tuttle said.
He provided some more statistics on the world’s second-largest economy after the United States: Japan represents about two-thirds of the gross national product of Asia, and had a gross domestic product of $4.1 trillion in 2001.

The best Washington state products to market in Japan include electronic components, computers, building products, aircraft and aircraft parts and medical equipment.

Cultural differences to be taken into account include being patient, with an emphasis on clear communication, he said.

“There are still a lot of opportunities for Washington state companies,” said Washington State European Office representative Dominique Gervais, referring to the competition between Airbus and Boeing.

She also high-lighted some of the differing business protocols between Europe and America.

Business should always be conduct-ed in formal attire, she said, adding there are no “casual Fridays” in Europe, eliciting a laugh from the crowd.

Other speakers included Karen Chen, representing China; Eric Crowley, representing Taiwan; Andrew Yang, representing Korea; and Tania Fernandez De Castro, representing Canada and Mexico, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In 2002, Washington state’s total exports were $34.6 billion. In 2001, Washington state’s two-way trade was $101 billion.

The touring event, which began March 24 and runs through April 2, will visit seven cities across the state.

Cities visited prior to “Tacoma Day” were Everett and Seattle. Cities to be visited after Tacoma include Vancouver, Bellingham, Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Bellevue.

“This is turning out to be an annual event, probably,” said Andreas Udbye, executive director of the World Trade Center Tacoma. “We look forward to seeing you next year.”


1. Japan – $4.34 billion
2. China (mainland) – $3.83 billion
3. Canada – $2.94 billion
4. Australia – $2.62 billion
5. Singapore – $2.3 billion
6. South Korea – $2.05 billion
7. France – $1.95 billion
8. United Kingdom – $1.22 billion
9. Taiwan – $1.04 billion
10. Italy – $1.02 billion
11. Germany – $1 billion
12. United Arab Emirates – $946 million

Source: Washington State Office of Trade & Economic Development