HCC seminar to advise on trade with China

January 05, 1995|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland's community colleges aren't renowned as sources of international trade advice, but Maurice Kogon thinks he can change that with a brand-new venture at Howard Community College.

Tomorrow, the community college will be the site for a seminar on how to pursue business opportunities in China, to which Maryland companies exported products worth $96.5 million in 1993 -- making that country the state's 13th-largest export market.

The daylong seminar is the first big effort of the college's new International Trade Assistance Center, which Mr. Kogon heads.

It will feature presentations on business opportunities from a three-member delegation from northeastern China's heavily industrialized Liaoning Province and from American executives with experience in China.

"Our role is a catalyst," said Mr. Kogon, a former U.S. Department of Commerce official.

"Essentially we're equipped to help a company from the cradle to the grave when it comes to getting started with exporting. A lot of resources exist for that, but most people running a business don't know it's out there and don't have the time to get away from their desks to go find it."

He said he believes that the seminar on China will give the center an opportunity to highlight its goal of helping small businesses understand foreign markets and find financial backing for venturing overseas.

The seminar also offers the center a chance to counter the widely held view in Maryland's business community that local colleges aren't equipped to educate business people about international trade, said James L. Hughes, director of the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore.

The institute, a public-private partnership, assists companies with revenues of $10 million to $100 million that are interested in foreign trade.

"Howard Community College has been really quite aggressive in Maryland in seeing the opportunities available for international trade education," said Mr. Hughes.

He says the international trade assistance center is a good venture for the college and small businesses in the Howard County area.

"In other states, community colleges play an important role in international trade education," Mr. Hughes said.

"In Maryland there are a lot of companies that have export-quality products. They just need to be educated and shown how to pursue the business. A local resource can often be the best resource for a small company new to exporting."

Salisbury State College is setting up a similar program to Howard's, and Morgan State University launched an international business education program about two years ago, he said.

The Maryland International Trade Division, a state agency, also offers foreign trade advice to Maryland companies, but its focus is helping companies already involved in trade oversees expand their efforts and thereby create jobs in the state.

The new trade assistance center at the Howard college will focus on assisting small and new businesses to understand foreign trade, said Mr. Kogon.

"We'll be working mostly with small companies new to export," he said.

The center will help companies:

* Identify the best foreign markets for their products or services.

* Understand the business climate, customs and distribution channels of countries in which they plan to market.

* Locate distribution agents and customers in targeted countries.

* Tap into trade shows and other events to gain exposure in these countries.

* Learn about financing, insurance and shipping.

Fees for these services will vary, depending on their complexity, said Mr. Kogon. Market research reports for countries will range from $10 to $25, while a search for agents and distributors will cost about $125.

As for tomorrow's China seminar -- about 30 company representatives had signed up to attend by midweek -- it appears to be in step with interest in the business community right now, said Andrew Gordon, a state international trade official.

"Next to Mexico, China is the place we get the most questions about," said Mr. Gordon.

Speakers at the seminar will include Winston Chan, president of Landover-based Multimax Inc.

In November, his company is working on a deal to manufacture personal computers with Anhui Chang Hong Corp.

"Sometimes the best way to understand a market is to hear from people who have been there," said Mr. Kogon.

Seminar information: 715-2453.

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