The essentials of a model for a trade mission abroad



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Trade promotion has a venerable history testified to by the sacred writings of the Judeo-Christian tradition and by the secular chronicles of ancient Persia and other countries of the Orient. The trade fairs of antiquity supplied precedence for John Bunyan's chapter entitled, 'Vanity Fair,' in Pilgrim's Progress. Nevertheless, these notations on trade are sporadic, incidental, and un-systematic. The purpose of this study is to develop a model for a trade mission which may serve as a guide to individuals, firms, or other local agencies interested in developing two-way trade. This study is a consideration not of trade in general but of one of foreign commerce's promotional tools. A basic assumption is the private enterprise pattern of trade participation and promotion. A collateral assumption is that trade decisions will be made basically in keeping with the profit motive, yet with that motive occasionally subordinated to other considerations. Consideration is given to the importance of the roles both of private business and of government in trade promotion. These roles are evaluated in light of their contribution to world trade. This study investigates recent and current trade promotion practices with a view to arranging systematically the techniques employed. Concentrated attention is given to objectives, preparation, and policies as well as schedules, and methods employed in pursuing the objectives of the mission and evaluating the results. The model depends heavily upon the opinion of men of stature now engaged in foreign trade. Some of them have local connections and are personally involved in commerce, while others have had the advantage of participating in the United States Department of Commerce Trade Missions program. Due to the dearth of relevant information in books and periodicals, questionnaires were directed to those with wide experience in the field. Participants in the United States Department of Commerce Trade Missions for 1957 were contacted in this manner. In addition, there has been direct contact with port officials, chambers of commerce, the Houston Field Office of the United States Department of Commerce, and a trade mission from another country which visited Houston. Other missioners have been contacted by means of correspondence. Written reports have been secured and analyzed, and the literature has been investigated. The claim to originality made by this study is that it organizes existing methods and practices so that they may be immediately useable by those interested in launching a trade mission program. The model achieved intends to be as practical and as complete as possible insofar as time for the study and source materials permit. The model is designed as an instructive business tool. It is anticipated that the tool will be improved by additional studies.