Discovering Global Markets—and when the government really is there to help
“Hello, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
That phrase, which strikes fear—or mirth—into the hearts of most U.S. business people, doesn’t even raise an eyebrow when said by a U.S. Commercial Service officer. That’s not because this branch of the Commerce Department doesn’t have a sense of humor, but rather because their mandate is to actually help, not hinder, U.S. businesses export their goods or services overseas. And they have been pretty successful at it.
That was obvious at the recent Discover Global Markets: Europe, a two-day conference held June 3-4 in Los Angeles. Commercial Service officers from 27 countries gave presentations, along with holding one-on-one meetings with exporters, including franchisors.
European Union Ambassador to the U.S. Joao Vale de Almeida thanked the event planners for “bringing Europe to Los Angeles.” His trip there helped him complete his goal of visiting all 50 states during his soon-to-end tenure as ambassador.
“I have two things to tell you,” he says. One: “Europe is back.” And two: “Be aware of that when you make your (export) plans.”
While Europe has outscored the worldwide financial crisis—“Europe, 3, Crisis, 1”—there are still a number of goals that need to be scored. “We’re back to growth—not enthusiastic growth—but growth,” he said.
When an audience member lightheartedly questioned whether she had made a mistake by placing 50 percent of her 401(k) portfolio in European stocks, Vale de Almeida didn’t miss a beat. “Yes you did,” he replied. “You should have put 70 percent.”
He also got a laugh when he stepped up to the microphone after accepting a slew of L.A. tourist trinkets, including a fake Oscar, and said, “I’d like to thank my mother.”