As more than 500 people prepare to gather at Bryant University for World Trade Day in June, signs are pointing to increased interest in global trade among Ocean State businesses.
For starters, interest in the annual Bryant summit appears to be up. Organizers anticipate close to 600 people will attend, up from about 500 in recent years and 75 when the conference started 25 years ago.
And there are other signs businesses in the state are showing increased interest in global markets.
In 1986, the year of the first World Trade Day, exports from Rhode Island totaled $300 million. By 2008, that number had jumped to $2 billion, according to Bryant University. Last year, exports fell to $1.5 billion, but in the first two months of 2010 Rhode Island had the fourth-highest export rate on a percentage basis in the United States.
And at the Rhode Island Manufacturers Extension Service (RIMES), a state organization charged with helping manufacturers, inquiries seeking help obtaining international certification for production techniques are up 34 percent from a year ago, CEO Leslie Taito said. The certification from the International Organization for Standardization opens the door for companies to take their products to the world stage.
“I think there are a lot of times where competition has gotten pretty tough for some of these smaller companies, so instead of fighting for your piece of pie you can take it into another market,” said Taito, who will moderate a panel discussion on World Trade Day.
Taito suspects companies seeking the ISO certification – a costly and time-consuming endeavor – are setting themselves up for when the economy rebounds. ISO certification will let those companies and their products quickly head to the first parts of the global economy that show signs of recovery.