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IAEE leaders forge trade agenda with U.S. trade representative

Exhibitions and events that include products and services of interest to international buyers will significantly benefit from collaborative discussions in June between officials of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and leaders of the International Association of Exhibitions and Event (IAEE).

IAEE Chairman Chris Meyer, CEM, CMP, Chairman-Elect Vinnie Polito and IAEE President Steven Hacker, CAE, met with Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Myesha Ward and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, Office of Textiles Gail Strickler, to discuss a broad agenda of issues including a plan developed by IAEE designed to ensure that U.S. exhibitions and events play a significant role in the new National Export Initiative (NEI).

“It became immediately apparent,” Meyer said. “That the national objective expressed by President Obama of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 is a shared objective with our industry. The events that we produce are the most logical places to look for new international buyers of U.S. goods and services.”

IAEE urged the inclusion of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the new National Export Cabinet since that agency plays such a substantial role in determining who is permitted into the United States, and what exports are permissible in light of national security issues.

The IAEE team also urged that significantly more resources be allocated in the 2011 federal budget to support the expansion of the International Buyers and Tradeshow Certification Programs of the Commerce Department. Likewise, they stated that most U.S. embassies and consulates are not furnished with sufficient resources with which to efficiently manage U.S. visa applications. The NEI must address the inability of qualified buyers from non-visa waiver nations to secure their visas.

“Consider issuing two-year business traveler visas and/or creating a ‘Trusted Business Traveler’ program,” Hacker said. “If a business traveler has demonstrated a level of trustworthiness by his/her prior compliance with U.S. immigration policy, we should allow that buyer the opportunity to re-enter the U.S. under more favorable and efficient circumstances. Notwithstanding U.S. security issues, it makes no sense not to do so.”

Among the issues of agreement:

  • IAEE member exhibitions will be assisted in identifying likely sources of international buyers.
  • A web site will be created that contains resources for organizers to share with their international buyers providing guidance and assistance to ensure financing and shipping assistance for products/services secured at U.S. trade events.
  • IAEE will assist the Office of U.S. Trade Representative to identify those member exhibitions that are likeliest to yield significant sources of international buyers.
  • Personnel from the Office of U.S. Trade Representative will present workshops and guidance to IAEE member organizers at IAEE events.

U.S. exhibition organizers will be urged to provide courtesy opportunities for factories, banks and export/import banks to be present on their show floors to help buyers expedite their U.S. purchases. Freight forwarders should also be given opportunities to arrange for overseas shipping.

“Our discussion was among the most fruitful for which we could have hoped” Polito said. “IAEE member organizations and the U.S. economy will be the beneficiaries of the work that we have begun today.”

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