New California Export Promotion Program Unveiled
Initiative will create a ''seamless'' link between the state and existing federal trade programs
WASHINGTON, DC - 04/19/04 - A new state/federal government program has been unveiled assist California exporters in increasing their global market share.
The first-of-its-kind program - the California Trade Initiative (CTI) - is expected to be up and running this fall?and "will take effectively leverage the?wealth of expertise that already exists within the state and meld it with the worldwide reach of the Department of Commerce's Foreign Commercial Service (FCS)," said Michael Liikala, senior commercial officer at the US Embassy in Madrid, Spain.
The heart of the program, he told the CalTrade Report, will be a "state-wide trade partner network" linking the FCS' 50 trade specialists in 15 offices throughout the state with California's International Trade Development Centers (CITDs), World Trade Centers, and chambers of commerce and trade promotion organizations with the Commercial Service's global network of 130 overseas offices and the trade-related services of a number of other federal agencies including the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).
The new CTI will, Liikala said, coordinate trade promotion strategy and the "delivery of services," share electronic information, create joint training programs for companies new to export, and "hyper link" the entire network of trade service providers.
The goal "is to create a seamless overlap between the different agencies and groups involved" and "provide useful market intelligence, industry sector analysis, and partner and buyer searches and advocacy support, while maximizing the involvement of California exporters in trade shows and missions."
Services will be customized by market and industry sector priorities with free and fee-based services and pass-through of costs via contracted services. Deliverables, Liikala said, will be guaranteed with one-year renewable contracts.
"We want to support the California effort to put the state back on a global footing," he said, stressing that the "actual strategy driving the program," as well as its day-to-day management will be handled by the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency in Sacramento - the state agency now headed by Secretary Sunne McPeak that assumed control over the handful of trade programs that survived last year's cuts, he said.
"This will be state-run program based on a state-developed trade promotion strategy at minimal cost to the taxpayer," said Liikala. "Creating a global reach with the California 'brand' will be a tremendous boost to the state's economy."?
"The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts," said Liikala, who is being reassigned to California this summer to head the program. "The state's position in the global economy "demands that exporters in the state have the tolls they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy."
California, he said, took a "heavy hit" when its entire trade-promotion and support structure was de-funded as a result of last year's post-recall legislative budget cuts.
"The state's budget difficulties shouldn't preclude the state actively promoting itself overseas," Liikala said. "Using the state's wealth of trade expertise and resources wisely is very important and it would be counterproductive for the state to try to waste time and money trying to replicate what we [the FCS] can do."
Restoring access to export financing is a priority with a "critical" component of the Initiative aimed at negotiating for Ex-Im Bank guarantees of state-originated loans and working with the SBA working capital program to target California-based small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), Liikala said.??
Educated at the University of California - Santa Cruz, the University of Southern California, and Johns Hopkins, Liikala has served in Spain with the Foreign Commercial Service for the past four years. He previously served at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Liikala's "Spain connection" will form an important springboard for the new CTI.
One of the first projects Liikala will energize will be a US Ambassador-lead Spain Business Mission to California with a focus on key California industry sectors.
In addition, California will be prominently featured as an upcoming Trade and Investment Summit in Madrid with California apparel companies being recruited to display their products at Spain's International Fashion Trade Show in September.
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