16 JANUARY 2002

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Trade Missions – a chance to capitalise

The Malta Financial and Business Times this week carried out a brief interview with Dennis Vella, Manager of the Export Marketing Division of the Malta External Trade Corporation, who provided a breakdown of METCO’s Trade Missions scheduled for the first half of the year

What are METCO Trade Missions?
Trade Missions are events whereby groups of Maltese manufacturers, exporters and traders travel to target markets with the main scope of initiating sales leads with potential trade buyers including importers, retailers and agents.

They also serve to gain a better understanding of the business culture and competitive environment of the markets visited and to consolidate and follow-up existing contacts.

What are the benefits for a participating company?
METCO Trade Missions offer a good ‘value for money’ export marketing tool whereby in about one week, a group of companies can visit two markets/cities and through the assistance provided by METCO, one can establish good sales leads that could lead to concrete export orders.

One has to emphasise that Trade Missions do not necessarily generate sales leads there and then, however, through proper follow-up action, a good number of mission participants have in the past reported to us that they started to export to the target markets and now are regular exporters.

METCO is targeting Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Greece, why these markets?
Markets are selected on the basis of market research and the degree of interest shown in these markets by the Maltese companies.
In the case of the Gulf mission, both cities identified i.e. Manama and Dubai play a dominant role in the economy of both countries and both adopt a very liberal import duty regime reaching about 4% to 7.5% for most goods. Dubai in particular emerges as a regional centre for trade with over 70% of its total imports re-exported to neighbouring countries.
METCO’s promotional events in the Gulf have been on an annual basis for the past five years and this has resulted in a significant increase in exports, reaching over Lm9.2 million in 2000, an increase of over 81% over 1995.
With no major restrictions on imported products and with several projects in the pipeline in view of the Olympic Games scheduled for 2004, Greece should also offer Maltese companies the opportunity to increase their export performance which in 2000 had reached over Lm1 million from Lm0.1m in 1997.
These missions follow the first 2002 mission being organised by METCO to Egypt and Tunisia. During the 10-17 February period, over 20 companies from various sectors will visit these countries.

What is the role of METCO and the participating companies?
METCO pays special attention to first time participants and guides them through the whole process of participation. A number of information meetings are organised before the events so that companies are updated on developments and the mission programme.
METCO organises an intensive marketing campaign in the target markets in order to create awareness about the business opportunities offered by the Maltese companies and solicit interest for the one to one meetings.
One should, however, emphasise that METCO’s role in these events is mainly one of co-ordination and support. With the support of METCO’s Business Information Centre, Trade mission participants are also expected to undertake their own research and contact identification in order to intensify the contact generation in the target markets.

What should a company do if interested in participating?
The Export Marketing Division of METCO, which is responsible for the organisation of the trade missions and trade fairs, has prepared an informative leaflet to prospective companies about the markets selected and the logistical arrangements.
Local manufacturers, exporters, service providers and importers with exclusive rights for re-export purposes to the target markets, should exploit the services provided by METCO in order to consolidate and expand their international activities. The personnel at the Export Marketing Division would be pleased to answer any queries or visit companies to provide further details on tels. 48143204 or 21446186.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt