Upcoming Consultation and Trade Mission Offer Skagit County Businesses New Growth Opportunities

Thursday, August 30, 2018

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With more than 95 percent of all consumers located outside the United States, exports and international trade present significant potential growth opportunities for manufacturers, farmers, and services providers.  Skagit County is a leading exporter in its own right, as the source of 25 percent of global supply of cabbage and beet seeds, along with other agricultural crops, advanced machinery, and other manufactured goods sold and shipped all around the world.  Supporting Skagit County businesses and communities in reaping the economic benefits available through exporting is an important priority for EDASC, and three upcoming activities offer excellent opportunities to explore new sales and growth through exporting.   

Washington Export Outreach Team (WEOT):  On September 9, WEOT--a group of Washington State and U.S. federal government agencies active in supporting exporters--will offer a free half-day workshop at the Port of Bellingham to introduce businesses to the export tools and resources they need to grow your business internationally.  Offering a comprehensive overview from deciding whether to export, to conducting market research, up to finding financing options to get your products to new overseas customers, the WEOT workshop is an excellent venue for developing your business’ export strategies.   More Information

Agriculture Trade One-on-One Advising:  From September 18-20, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is offering one-on-one consultations for Washington State businesses with its overseas representatives based in China, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia.  This will be an excellent opportunity for Skagit County farmers, value-added agriculture producers, and other businesses in the agriculture sector to gain market insights and information that will help your company develop your export strategies and grow your export sales.  Meetings offer good opportunities to learn about these markets, understand the local distribution chains, and identify opportunities for your products, while working on your business’ export marketing plan, identify buyers, help with labeling/packaging/documentation requirements, and understand import requirements for your product or address a particular situation your company is facing in exporting.  Application and More Information 

Korea Value-Added Agriculture Trade Mission:  Looking for an opportunity to put into action everything you have learned from these sessions?  WSDA, in partnership with EDASC, are considering conducting a trade mission to South Korea focused on specialty, organic, and value-added agriculture, during the mid-February 2019 time frame. This trade mission would offer participants an excellent opportunity to conduct firsthand market research; meet with prospective buyers; and learn the lay of the land for doing business in Korea, one of Washington State’s most important international economic partners. This potential mission is ideal for farms and businesses in the value-added agriculture sector, and that are new to exporting or exploring opportunities to enter or expand in global markets.

Why Korea?  Korea is Washington’s fourth-largest export market for agriculture products, which totaled $520 million in 2017. Under the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement implemented in 2012, two-thirds of Korean tariffs on U.S. agricultural products were eliminated immediately, with other tariffs and other market restrictions being phased out every year and further opening Korea’s market. Washington State farmers and agriculture businesses have experienced significant new growth in Korea, including cherries, wheat, seafood, hay, French fries, and other products. Moreover, organic agriculture is increasingly popular among Korean consumers, and the craft beer scene has started to expand. Although Korea is a highly competitive market that can be challenging to enter, it presents excellent opportunities for Washington State farmers and producers with high-quality, top-notch agriculture products.

As part of the mission, EDASC is also exploring a study visit to Washington’s Korean sister state, Jeollabuk Province. Korea’s leading agricultural region, Jeollabuk Province hosts several national-level agricultural research facilities, and is a center within Korea for agritourism, culinary tourism, and local food promotion activities. This potential side visit could offer good opportunities for Washington educational and research institutions, local governments, and others to learn about these activities, and to develop connections with Korean counterpart organizations.

EDASC and WSDA are currently measuring interest levels for this potential mission, and are eager to hear from Washington farmers, ranchers, food and beverage businesses, and other agriculture sector groups that may wish to participate.To help offset some of the costs, the Washington State Department of Commerce has a STEP Export Voucher Program which awards up to $5,000 for eligible new-to-export or new-to-market companies. There is a 25% cash match required or up to $1,250 to receive the full voucher. There is an application process which includes a review committee.

If you are interested in participating in these activities, or would like more information, please contact Sean Connell, EDASC Director of Business Development and Global Competitiveness, at sean@skagit.org.

Category: International, international trade, Korea, Value-Added Agriculture