TU and TGA Host Seminar on Doing Business with Brazil, Argentina, and the Mercosur Trade Bloc

Monday, July 23, 2012

On Tuesday, June 26th, TU along with the Tulsa Global Alliance (TGA) was pleased to host keynote speaker, Lorrie J. Fussell, U.S. Department of Commerce Brazil Desk Officer, and three panelists, Carlos Romero, Helmerich & Payne International VP, Rafael Quintero, McElroy Manufacturing International Sales Manager, and John Morrow, TD Williamson Training Manager for Western Hemisphere.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. opened the seminar with comments on Tulsa’s strengths within the oil and gas industry and his efforts to make Tulsa the leader in alternative energy in both a domestic and international business sense.

Panelists at the Doing Business with Brazil, Argentina, and the Mercosur Trade Bloc breakfastAttendees learned that Brazil, Argentina, and the Mercosur trade bloc are emerging economies that possess a great deal of international business opportunity. Top export industries to these areas are machinery, mineral fuel, aircraft/spacecraft, electric machinery, and plastics. In 2011, the total trade between the U.S. and Brazil was $74.3 billion, with Oklahoma exporting $153.3 million in that same year. Argentina also shows strong opportunity with high GDP growth, abundant natural resources, and needed infrastructure and investment. The Mercosur members are made up of full members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Associate members include Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. Together they have a combined GDP of US $1.1 trillion. In 2011, Oklahoma exported $214.83 million to Mercosur, an increase of 62.38% from 2010 to 2011.

There are however, challenges as highlighted by the three panelists who shared some of their experiences in these regions. High tariffs to trade and limited access to finance have proven significant barriers to entry for many international companies. Strategies that were encouraged by the speakers included developing relationships with people in Brazil, consulting good tax and legal advisors, establishing a local partner, agent, or distributor, and speaking the local language.

Businesses are encouraged to contact the U.S. Department of Commerce for more specific trade information, at www.trade.gov. Other recommended resources include the Small Business Administration: Breaking into the Trade Game: Small Business Guide to Exporting and Intellectual Property Protection: the Brazil Toolkit at http://stopfakes.gov.

Dr. J. Markham Collins