Re-defining “Trade Mission”: Expanding the Global Footprint and Establishing Two-Way Dialog
Trade missions are commonly thought of as attraction tools. You go to a country, you find businesses interested in expansion, you establish a relationship and then you reel them in. It’s not a bad strategy. However, on Fremont’s recent trade mission to India, we were very focused on identifying new markets for Fremont companies to expand their global footprint, and to establish new partners and product lines. In fact, this was equal, if not greater than our efforts to woo Indian companies to our shores.
This approach is in direct response to stated needs from Fremont businesses. Our innovation leaders have identified four major impediments to their future growth, one of which is access to global markets. This item was actually identified as the single most important item by Innovation Scorecard Board Room participants, while local capacity was viewed as marginal (#30 out of 60). As stated by Oorja President and CEO Sanjiv Malhotra:
“Virtually all of today’s mark-leading companies have a global footprint. Many of these companies can be tremendous customers or channel partners for Fremont companies. Until companies reach a level of scale, it’s very difficult to maximize international trade potential with limited internal resources, expertise and bandwidth. To the extent Fremont can initiate or facilitate programs and linkages that enhance our connectivity into Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia in particular, it will be a huge value add in helping us increase our international sales and grow our businesses and the local economy.”
In other words, Fremont needs to “expand its economic pie.” This concept was introduced during last year’s Innovation Scorecard effort. The chart below illustrates very clearly why Fremont is getting more involved in the international arena.
The report makes the important point that the success of companies who exclusively sell to the local community is often at the expanse of another local business. The economic pie metaphor shows that if Fremont-based companies increase their market share internationally, they can grow our economy at the local, regional, state and national levels. This is the reason why organizations like the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Export Assistance Center and the Center for International Trade Development provided assistance to our delegation.
The days of one-way trade delegations are over. Today’s trade delegation allows us to learn and exchange ideas as equals. In the case of India, our notions of this “outsourcing center” were blown out of the water. India is much more than a country of call centers and IT experts. It is a country that is building LEED Platinum buildings and creating impressive businessparks that cater to specific industries such as Life Sciences. And, we are fortunate that this two-way interchange continues beyond our delegation with many former Fremont residents serving as ambassadors in cities like Bangalore and Jaipur.
Fremont is already global in its residential population and in its business population. We view this globalization as an asset, and in the case of business, you could say that our future depends on it.