What does it mean to be a trade representative? In short, they bring value to companies, as well as to the country they represent. Their economic research and business development take many forms, and the job is both exciting and complex.
Asha: A Day In the Life
Asha’s first task was to welcome a trade mission of businesses from her home country in Africa. Asha had helped to design their programme and had arranged meetings with potential European clients. Asha explained to the members of the mission how European ways of doing business differed from those in Africa.
After the mission briefing, she made a Skype call to her counterpart in the trade ministry back home. Asha was keen to persuade the ministry to bring a delegation, led by the minister himself, to a big international commodities trade fair. She thought it would be a great business opportunity, had assembled a lot of relevant data, and felt very close to getting a positive decision.
Asha was writing a report on opportunities for African suppliers in the European textiles industry and used a lunch meeting that day to check that there were sufficient prospects for business to justify her recommendation for a market visit. The feedback seemed positive, so Asha returned to the embassy and finalized the report for her country’s textiles industry association.
She also had to give some thought to her speech for an evening reception. She was sure that the recent growth of her country’s manufacturing sector and the availability of high quality graduates would be key selling points, so she would highlight them in her speech. She made a mental note to cover these points in her next blog, too.
Trade contributes to national economic development and stronger, more innovative companies.
Trade representatives are well placed to address challenges that keep businesses from connecting to international markets.
The responsibilities are wide, the profiles are diverse, and titles differ.
Trade representatives are increasingly asked to promote inward investment or tourism.
Representatives are often based in embassies, which has pros and cons.