World Trade Week Highlights Potential of Global Markets

While it doesn’t have the Americana of Independence Day or the family and community feel of Thanksgiving, World Trade Week – this year May 21-27 — is something worth celebrating.

In St. Johns County, the importance of global trade was front and center at the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council’s first Quarterly Breakfast of the year in March.

“When you realize that 85% of the world’s purchasing power is outside of the U.S. you can see the potential for exporting.,” said Scott Maynard, vice president of economic development at the chamber. “The Chamber of Commerce encourages small and medium sized businesses to consider exploring the opportunities exporting can bring.  Seventy percent of U.S. exporters have fewer than 50 employees and many have less than 20.”

Maynard said there are state and federal agencies to help businesses navigate international trade requirements.

“The U.S. Commercial Service Jacksonville and Enterprise Florida have a large number of resources to assist in taking the fear and guesswork out of establishing exporting lines of trade and a proven track record for assisting local business,” he said. 

At the March breakfast event, Chamber President Isabelle Renault talked about the significance of global market opportunities for county businesses large and small.

“Exporting is not reserved for larger companies,” Renault said at the event. “We want to de-mystify exporting.”

World Trade Week was first celebrated in 1927 by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and was officially recognized as a national observance during the third week of May in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In a message to Congress a year earlier, FDR spoke of the need for global trade.

“You and I know, too, that it is important that the country possess within its borders a necessary diversity and balance to maintain a rounded national life, that it must sustain activities vital to national defense and that such interests cannot be sacrificed for passing advantage,” Roosevelt wrote. “Equally clear is the fact that a full and permanent domestic recovery depends in part upon a revived and strengthened international trade and that American exports cannot be permanently increased without a corresponding increase in imports.”