Yesterday I published Part 2 of 3 very basic tools for businesses wanting to benefit from the presence of the foreign consulates in their communities. This is Part 3 and it shows how international corporate executives can benefit from reaching out to a local consul or consulate (the former is the person, the latter the office) in the same community where the business is already located.
No longer do you have to travel to other parts of the country to make a trade inquiry or present a commercial prospect in a foreign nation. When your target country has a consulate in the area where you work, the consul(s) attached to it may very well be the bridge you need to expand your business abroad.
Adding to the two other tools suggested in Part 1 and 2 (Know the Consulate, and Understand Consular Functions) I call the third:
Be site-specific with your consulate. In the old days, the commercial section of the Washington embassy of a consul often engaged in top-down management of his functions on a local level. For instance, there was no certainty about the extent to which trade inquires could be handled outside the capital. This led to a lot of confusion and wasted efforts by both parties.
Today, less monitoring from above has led to expanded authority for local consulates.The officials attached to these offices – the consuls themselves – have become site-specific decision-makers, which means the cumbersome process of dealing with an embassy is avoided. It doesn’t matter if the reason behind this evolution is fiscal austerity or changing leadership styles, or even the creation of new economic zones. The fact remains that when it comes to matters of an economic or commercial nature many consuls are authorized to take action or suggest solutions.
Further evidence of the site-specific approach is the plethora of print and on-line publications that focus on different world regions and binational leads. They also provide useful contact information for readers, such as the names and numbers for local consuls. Atlanta is one of the new leaders in this field.
Conclusion. The three nuggets in my last three blog posts are only a small beginning for commercial interests wanting to know how to best benefit from the services of local consulates.
You may wish to distribute them to everyone in your organization who’s ever wondered about the meaning of local consuls as bridges to the global economy.