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NDTO News Article

What, exactly, is a Trade Mission?

Entering the global marketplace can be daunting, especially for companies that are new to exporting. There’s a significant learning curve involved in meeting foreign regulations, and landing customers in other countries can take time and money.  One North Dakota Trade Office service that fully-encompasses the guiding principles of the North Dakota Trade Office – ‘Trade Expansion through Advocacy, Education and Expertise’- is Trade Missions.  Trade Missions can take many forms, depending on the destination as well as the company participating, but the bottom line is facilitating business for companies through face-to-face meetings with potential buyers.

What does a Trade Mission entail?

Trade Missions are NDTO-led business trips to international markets for North Dakota exporters and international business resources.  These missions are a proven, cost-effective tool for helping North Dakota companies learn first-hand about overseas markets by attending market briefings, visiting sales channels, and meeting face to face with qualified potential buyers, agents, distributors, and other business partners.  These trade missions are helpful in developing personal relationships between the potential buyers and sellers, something that is necessary in many cultures before business transactions actually take place.  Some benefits of Trade Missions are:

  • Market Briefings
    • Participating companies receive market briefings from local cultural, logistics, and economics experts. Market briefings are done through a series of pre-mission conference calls, organized by NDTO staff.
  • One-on-One Appointments
    • Appointments are scheduled by NDTO staff with the help of U.S. Commercial Service, ND Department of Agriculture, American Soybean Association, Foreign Ag Service and other trade specialists for mission delegates to meet with potential overseas buyers.
  • Ability to Meet Other U.S. Firms Interested in the Same Market
    • Synergies are often created between trade mission participants through their sharing of market information and valuable networking.
  • Access to High-level Officials
    • Many trade missions led by North Dakota government officials and include meetings with senior level government officials in industry and relevant ministries.
  • Events/Receptions/Media Coverage
    • Participating companies may be invited to receptions at the U.S. Embassy or related events that create positive opportunities for participating companies to further develop relationships with high-level decision makers.

Trade Missions often revolve around industry trade shows or in-country events and take many shapes depending on the companies attending.

Commercial companies may opt to work with the US Commercial Service to use Gold Key Matching Services.  The Gold Key is a fee-based service available to U.S.-based companies to introduce U.S.-made products to potential agents, distributors, sales representatives, association and government contacts, licensing or joint venture partners, end-users and other strategic business partners in the U.S. company’s targeted export market.

Food producers may do market research and set meetings with the help of NDTO and organizations such as the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, Foreign Ag Service, Food Export Midwest and the American Soybean Association, amongst others.

NDTO staff coordinate the logistics of the mission to make in-country travel as convenient as possible for North Dakota delegates.  The goal is to introduce participants to a new market or allow companies to expand their share in a market without having to deal with many of the hassles of international travel.

NDTO members receive discounted trade mission participation fees as part of their benefits package.

Upcoming NDTO Trade Missions

The North Dakota Trade Office will be leading the following trade missions in the coming months.  All trade missions are open to both NDTO members and non-members.

ChinaMarch 2012
UruguayMarch 2012
KazakhstanMay 2012
UkraineJune 2012
Indonesia & Vietnam (Reverse)August 2012
Big Iron (Reverse)September 2012
China/KoreaNovember/December 2012
AustraliaFebruary 2013
Japan/KoreaApril 2013

*Note* All trade missions and dates are subject to change

To learn more about NDTO trade missions or to suggest a destination for an upcoming mission, contact Mark Johnson at