In business, generalities tend to be bandied about quite a bit. And a topic that continues to suffer from this seemingly centuries-old trend is international trade (e.g., “Europeans don’t pay on time,” “All of the Middle East or Eastern Europe is dangerous right now,” etc.). Often, nations or even regions within a country get unfairly lumped in with places where instability or slow payment culture are pervasive. Even within the latter distinction, there are companies that could be considered diamonds in the rough. Throughout FCIB’s 25th Annual Global Credit Conference, expert speakers from the credit and financial industries tried to remind attendees of these dangers, especially in missed opportunities, or relying primarily on broad-brush, surface-level analysis.
“Finland and Spain are as different as the US and China,” said Michael Andreasen, ICCE, who is based in the Netherlands with TNT Express N.V. and a member of FCIB’s European Advisory Council. “Many people have the misunderstanding that all of Europe is the same.” The Middle East can be considered in the same lens, as other Global speakers noted increased wariness of doing business there because of Islamic State and Israel-Palestine fighting this year even through there are many countries in the overall region that are almost completely unaffected by these conflicts and are rife with opportunity for Western exporters.
Panelist Nelson de Castro, senior VP and US head of trade sales for Wells Fargo International Trade Services, agreed that failing to drill down beyond region-wide statistics and anecdotal information continues to be a problem, especially for those newer to exporting. Granted, US-based credit professionals could deduce as much from business at home in some ways. “Pennsylvania and Texas are like two different countries,” de Castro joked.
- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer