Trade Mission to South America Kicked off in Fall 2020

Business Oregon, Prosper Portland, and the U.S. Commercial Service teamed up to organize a virtual trade mission to Chile, Peru and Colombia this fall using SBA export assistance funding*. The mission started in late-September with a market briefing by commercial diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in each of the three countries. This provided insight into cultural norms, the status of the economy, and the potential trade opportunities. The briefing was followed by a series of three to five customized meetings in each market for the 7 Oregon participants. The first series of over 80 meetings held in October has now ended, and there is much excitement about the quality of them and prospects for export business. The three governmental partners (city/state/federal) will move forward with yet another series of meetings (about 80 more) in late November with six additional Oregon businesses.

Says Pam Neal of Prosper Portland, “All of the Oregon trade mission participants provide solutions to address waste, pollution, transportation, communication, security, medical and safety concerns that are widespread in certain South American markets. We believe this unique federal/state/city partnership can also benefit markets in many other countries around the world.”

Orenco (Sutherlin), provides solutions that help with waste water. Several other Oregon companies, such as Met One Instruments (Grants Pass), Sunset Laboratory (Tigard), Saibri Cooper (Tigard), and ARA Instruments (Eugene) provide air monitoring solutions. Tunnel Radio (Corvallis) provides a communication system that can potentially save lives in rail and mining systems. Other participants in the overall mission include: AIMCO (Portland) – advanced tooling; SSI Shredding (Wilsonville) – industrial size reduction; Theia Technologies (Wilsonville) – high performance optics;  OpConnect (Portland) – EV charging systems, Element Grow (Corvallis) – air filtration and monitoring systems, Suturegard (Portland) – advanced wound closure, and SWR (Portland) – all purpose cleaner and degreaser.

Trade specialists Alexa Byers, Sunun Setboonsarng, Pam Neal, Melissa McInnis, and Haisum Shah worked with the commercial teams at the U.S. Embassies in the three markets of Chile, Peru and Colombia. Cross-agency coordination was vital. “Based on specific criteria from the companies, we arranged tailored meetings to help them find the best potential partners in these markets and, ultimately, to help them grow their exports,” said Melissa McInnis, U.S. Commercial Service. Verbio Translation, a local woman-owned business, assisted the Oregon exporters with Spanish-speaking interpreters so the companies could take full advantage of the opportunity.

It’s too early to tell the results of the mission, as it is only halfway through, but participants are optimistic and so are the project managers. “In times of a global pandemic where travel is not an option, combining industry knowledge with a tried-and-true match-making program, but with a virtual spin, seems to be the way to go, perhaps for the foreseeable future,” said Alexa Byers of Business Oregon.

Added Andrea Van Landingham of Theia Technologies, “We have participated in many virtual events since the travel ban and I can safely say this trade mission was the best in terms of meeting with potential partners. The local office teams did a fantastic job in researching and pre-qualifying the participants making it a great use of our time!“

The three entities, Prosper Portland, Business Oregon and US Commercial Service, encourage exporters to contact them for additional information about export programs like the South American Trade Mission and others.

*State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) funding available from Small Business Administration (SBA)