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5 Questions with James Demers, New Hampshire International Trade Advisory Committee

We talk about international trade a lot on this blog, letting our businesses throughout the state know about the opportunities to be had overseas. Global markets likely need products and services made right here in New Hampshire – they just need to know where to find them. Our Office of International Trade works diligently to introduce businesses to these markets through its many partnerships. James Demers answers this week’s 5 Questions about one of those organizations.

James Demers

James Demers

1. Can you explain a bit about what the International Trade Advisory Committee does for the state and your role within it?
The International Trade Advisory Committee is a committee authorized by law with the primary mission of assisting the Department of Resources and Economic Development and the state’s Office of International Commerce in promoting and increasing international trade for New Hampshire businesses.
Legislative leaders have recognized that opportunities exist for New Hampshire businesses to participate in the world economy and they have actually tasked DRED with developing resources to assist companies in this area. So, ITAC is one element that brings a group together with experience and interest in international trade to assist with these goals.

2. You’ve been involved in the field of international trade for many years, even serving on the board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. What can you tell us about the opportunities for New Hampshire in the export market?

It is an honor to serve as chairman of New Hampshire’s International Trade Advisory Committee as well as having been appointed by President Obama to serve on the board of the Overseas Private Investment Corp., which is the federal government’s development financial institution.
Many people think that international trade and business opportunities in developing countries are solely for very large corporations, but one of the things I have learned from both organizations is there are tremendous international opportunities for small businesses too.
The key point is businesses need to think a bit outside of the box. If they have a product or service that works well here in New Hampshire or in the United States, it is likely there are other places that could use it too. As a matter of fact, in many cases there are foreign markets that lag the United States and need many products we take for granted here.
Companies, big and small, that are looking to grow should think about potential opportunities in other countries. And that is where the state’s Office of International Commerce can help. Small businesses rarely have the expertise to figure out how to proceed in getting into another country, or even determining where opportunities might exist. People need to recognize the state has a division that can assist them.

3. Are there industries in New Hampshire that may not be thought of as exporters, but could discover tremendous opportunity for their businesses if they pursued an export strategy?

Absolutely. The one that comes to mind is in the healthcare delivery system. During Governor Hassan’s trade mission to Turkey, I met with a businessman in Istanbul who owns a cancer treatment hospital in Turkey. He told me that they have several missing elements of cancer healthcare, most notably hospice and palliative care facilities. That made me realize there is a significant need for hospice services that could be delivered by American entities that know how to deliver this aspect of service.

4. What are the biggest challenges to New Hampshire exporters right now, and what is ITAC doing to help solve them?

One of the challenges is actually finding foreign business markets and making contacts in countries that might help develop export opportunities. That is where the state’s Office of International Commerce can help. Businesses should not hesitate reaching out to the OIC for assistance.

5. What’s coming up for ITAC that’s new and exciting?

Earlier this year, the legislature amended the ITAC law, adding additional members who will bring more expertise in the area of international trade. We have always had support from federal agencies like the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration, but the law change also adds representatives from the state’s four-member congressional delegation, which hopefully will help coordinate even stronger collaboration between state and federal trade agencies. This should help bring even more resources and information for New Hampshire businesses looking to enter foreign markets.

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