Trade missions may be key to more overseas commerce in Philly

How can Philadelphia expand international trading? Members of City Council heard some suggested answers to that question during a hearing Wednesday.


Terry Cooke, chairman and founder of the China Partnership for Greater Philadelphia, says when thinking of trade, Philadelphia officials need to remember William Penn.

“The great experiment was open to all,” he said of Penn’s “Holy Experiment” to attract diverse settlers to Pennsylvania.

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“In 2013, we need to reach out to the Chinese on the basis of our values to share our inventiveness and entrepreneurism, to tackle global problems of climate change, and to help pioneer 21st century technology solutions,” Cooke continued.

David Webster, who runs an international marketing company, said Philadelphia already does a great deal of overseas trade.

“The Chilean fruit that comes through the city of Philadelphia provides a third of the stevedoring business, jobs for the ports,” he said. “Then you add the fruit from South Africa, the meat from Australia, the cocoa beans from Africa. You can see all the jobs it creates, not to mention the companies involved in cold storage, sales, marketing, distribution.”

Webster says, in order to expand international marketing, Philadelphia must commit to a coordinated effort and find some money to host trade missions.

The honorary consul for the Republic of Korea agrees.

Trade missions are vital, said Harris Baum.

“In the Asian view, business is not done by Skype,  business is not done by advertising,” he said. “Business is done one by one, face by face, and if we send businesspeople out to these various countries to be out there, one by one, we will get business in the city of Philadelphia.”

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