By Robert Pore
email@example.com | Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2016 10:30 pm
Nilufar Salama, a managing partner with Salama International, hands out packets during the Greater Nebraska International Trade Workshop at First National Bank, 810 Allen Dr. Thursday. (Independent/Andrew Carpenean)
International trade is a key component of Grand Island’s economy that has created jobs for the community. To help grow international trade, the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp. offered an International Trade Workshop on Thursday.
The workshop was put on by First National Bank, Husch Blackwell LLP, Salama International, RSM US LP and Werner Enterprises.
Participants learned about the basics needed to be successful when trading internationally, such as international payment terms, legal fundamentals of international transactions and trade compliance, export management, international tax basics, foreign exchange transactions and logistics, service provider selection and supply chain management advantages.
Agriculture commodities, such as beef, soybeans and corn, along with agricultural equipment, made up the top seven export items and 33 percent of Nebraska’s total exports last year of $6.56 billion. In Grand Island, many of the community’s largest employers prosper from international trade.
Nebraska recently completed a successful trade mission to Europe and will embark on a trade mission to China this month. Lt. Gov. Mike Foley visited WR Reserve in Hastings on Thursday to congratulate the company on sending the first shipment of U.S. beef to Israel in 13 years.
Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp. President Dave Taylor said Thursday’s workshop was offered because Grand Island “is the hub out here in greater Nebraska. We have the facilities, and we have people who want to attend. I think it is a great opportunity.”
Taylor said Grand Island, with its dual-access rail, is “real important when you consider international trade.”
“We currently do have foreign trade subzones in Grand Island, and we are working with another company locally to create another one,” he said.
In Grand Island, CNH is a foreign trade subzone. In a foreign-trade zone (FTZ), commercial merchandise, both domestic and foreign, receives the same customs treatment it would if it were outside the commerce of the United States.
Mary Berlie, economic development corporation executive vice president, said having the trade workshop in Grand Island “gives our local companies a leg up to the foreign trade world.”
“We want to be able to expose our community partners to as much information that is relevant to their business as possible,” Berlie said. “We want to bring our business community the most relevant information and allow them to be the best and the most efficient that they can be.”
Grant D. Leach, an attorney at Husch Blackwell, said the businesses that organized the workshop had a similar one in Omaha in April.
“With this workshop, we are offering something for everyone that’s helpful for existing export businesses, but also businesses who are just trying to do business internationally,” Leach said. “In Grand Island, with Chief, Hornady and Case New Holland, there are some very sophisticated export businesses in the region.”
The purpose of the workshop, Leach said, was to “share some information about how to grow export businesses and better practices to employ and hopefully providing a networking opportunity for people engaging in international business.”
Another presenter was Micheal Salerno, vice president of global banking for First National Bank in Omaha. He said the bank works with businesses across Nebraska on the financial aspects of international trade.
“It helps to grow trade across the state,” Salerno said. “We spend a lot of time helping customers make sure that they get paid and have the right payment terms, as well as dealing with currency conversion and exchange.”
Salerno said Grand Island and Kearney have been big growth markets for his global banking duties at First National Bank.
“With the new challenges of a depreciating dollar and all the different political risks, cash advances and paying the seller up front, it has become more challenging, and we help to find new ways to make their products more competitive and to compete globally,” he said.
Leach said there are always frustrating hurdles for the exporter to clear, whether it’s a port that a company couldn’t get goods through or a product certification that’s needed for a certain country.
“Sitting down and engaging with other businesses who deal in international trade is always valuable,” Leach said. “Just with the networking aspect alone, this workshop will attract a few people.” He said Nebraska is poised “very well for international exporting,” especially as people around the world are expanding their diets to include new and different foods. “People in Nebraska are willing to work hard to take advantage of these opportunities,” he said.