Edward Burton, President and Managing Director of the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council (USSABC) will be the featured speaker on Friday, March 23rd at the World Trade Center Tacoma’s (WTCTA) monthly briefing to discuss business opportunities in the Saudi market for Washington-based companies. The program will take place at the Law Offices of Gordon Thomas Honeywell 7:45am. – 9:00am.
Mr. Burton will be joined by the President of SUPERVALU International, Charles Witzleben, and Regional Manager Sandi Funk. SUPERVALU INC. is one of the largest companies in the U.S. grocery channel with annual sales of approximately $37 billion. SUPERVALU serves customers across the U.S. through a network of approximately 4,300 stores supported by their traditional food distribution business.
Mr. Witzleben and Ms. Funk recently returned from the Kingdom and will discuss the company’s partnership with Tamimi Markets, one of the largest grocery retailers in Saudi Arabia. SUPERVALU International is a member of the Business Council and Mr. Witzleben serves on WTCTA’s Board of Directors.
“I am pleased to have the Business Council and SUPERVALU International share their insights on this strategically important market,” said Anthony Hemstad, President of WTCTA. “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region are often overlooked markets that nevertheless present untapped potential for our companies in the Puget Sound region.”
With Washington’s heavy focus on international trade, Saudi Arabia serves as a key emerging market for companies in the State. Saudi Arabia’s ambitious national development plan has committed to spending $385 billion on projects through 2014, presenting significant opportunities for companies involved in aviation, healthcare, ICT, power generation, wastewater treatment, and construction (engineering, architecture, design, supplies, and services).
Exports from Washington to Saudi Arabia totaled over $270 million in 2011, with agricultural products and food manufacturing accounting for nearly 65 percent of the total. In fact, the Kingdom is in the process of phasing out production of water-intensive crops and will supplement the balance with imports, creating massive opportunities for Washington farmers. With a demonstrated preference for American products, technologies, and services, Washington companies are well-positioned to capitalize on the Kingdom’s need for foreign exports and expertise.
“In 2011, Washington ranked 17th in terms of the volume of exports to the Kingdom, which is a jump from its ranking of 22nd last year,” said Mr. Burton. “However, with the diversity of Washington’s economic base and the innovative nature of the companies in this region, I believe there is significant growth potential for this commercial relationship.”
Mr. Burton’s visit to the Puget Sound Region is part of the Business Council’s dedicated outreach to the State to assist companies in developing and expanding business in Saudi Arabia. In July, the Business Council signed a memorandum of cooperation with Washington State Department of Commerce to develop the bilateral business relationship. The two organizations are working to organize a business development mission to Saudi Arabia December 8-12, 2012. Participating companies will have a unique opportunity to develop or increase business and acquire key contacts in the Saudi market by joining the mission.
The seminar and the mission are open to all Washington companies. Registration for the seminar is $10 for members of WTCTA and $15 for non-members. Please register at https://www.wtcta.org/connect/upcoming-events.
About the USSABC
The U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council (USSABC) was established in December 1993 to improve the mutual knowledge and understanding between the private sectors of the U.S and Saudi Arabia and to promote and facilitate increased trade and investment between the two countries. The USSABC has built a membership base of approximately 350 leading companies in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and serves as the central source of information and assistance for companies that want to pursue specific business activities in Saudi Arabia. The USSABC organizes conferences and seminars in both countries to promote dialogue between the two private sectors, as well as trade and investment missions that provide networking opportunities for U.S. and Saudi companies. For more information on the Business Council, please visit www.us-sabc.org
About the World Trade Center Tacoma
As part of a worldwide network of World Trade Centers, the World Trade Center Tacoma (WTCTA) helps local businesses succeed in the global market. As a trade association for exporters, importers, and service providers, and supported by the private and public sectors via memberships, sponsorships and contracts, WTCTA offers a variety of programs and resources to stimulate international trade. For more information about WTCTA, please visit www.wtcta.org.
About the Washington State Department of Commerce
The Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce) is the lead state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. Established in 2009, Commerce administers a diverse portfolio of more than 100 programs and several boards and commissions, all focused on achieving one clear and simple mission: to grow and improve jobs in Washington. Commerce’s key customers include businesses and employers, local governments and community-based organizations. It also plays the crucial role of convening numerous local, state, regional and federal partners and stakeholders, public and private. Together Commerce works to support the Governor’s priorities and achieve shared goals and objectives for the citizens of Washington. For more information on WADC, please visit www.commerce.wa.gov.