March 4, 2021

Maryland Partners in International Trade Hosts Webinar on Evaluating Foreign Business Partners

The Center for Global Business (CGB) hosted the third installment of a new series of webinars by the MAPIT Alliance focused on risk when entering international markets. In the webinar “Evaluating Foreign Business Partners,” experts shared helpful tips and best practices on how to evaluate potential partners for your international operations, including how to manage risk and conduct background checks on companies you are considering doing business with abroad.

The webinar featured insights and best practices from Alexandra Wrage, president and CEO, TRACE International, and Kim Vaccari, director of sales, Konsyl Pharmaceuticals. Rebecca Bellinger, executive director of CGB, moderated the conversation.

Wrage kicked off the conversation by introducing TRACE, a non-profit business association that specializes in providing members with solutions for anti-bribery compliance, including risk management tools, compliance resources, and due diligence services. She explained the importance of due diligence in order to avoid possible fines, legal trouble, and reputational damage. She pointed out that background checks can uncover issues such as illegal past activity, financial instability, or sanctions, all examples of major “red flags.” Wrage introduced the TRACE certification, which is a comprehensive risk assessment process useful to both US companies seeking partners abroad and those potential partners seeking to represent US exporters in their home markets. She explained that TRACE’s ultimate goal is to “make transparency and doing the right thing simpler for companies that are operating internationally.”

Vacarri continued the conversation by discussing the steps Konsyl Pharmaceuticals takes when deciding what distributors to partner with internationally. Konsyl’s process involves first collecting information through a background questionnaire from any potential distributor and then looking into the selected partner’s capabilities. Some of those capabilities include its distribution network, sales and marketing plan, and the strength of its regulatory department. Konsyl also analyzes the profit margins by considering if that distributor can sell Konsyl’s product at the right price so that both parties profit, as well as what localization efforts might be required for Konsyl products in that market. Vacarri concluded the discussion by recommending several ways to find a distributor match, such as through the Gold Key Service, international trade shows, and trade associations.

Bellinger wrapped up the session by discussing three key programs and resources offered by partners in the MAPIT Alliance. The ExportMD Program allows Maryland-based companies to apply for up to $5,000 to support their export marketing initiatives. The U.S. Commercial Service Company Profile provides background information on foreign companies. Finally, the Global Marketing Virtual Internship Program and Global Export Consulting Program of CGB provide two unique summer opportunities for companies to work with undergraduate and MBA students at Maryland Smith on international marketing and consulting projects.

The MAPIT Alliance is a partnership of Maryland Smith’s Center for Global Business, Maryland-D.C. District Export Council, the Maryland Department of Commerce, Office of International Investment and Trade, and the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Baltimore.

Watch the recording of the webinar. Learn more about the MAPIT Alliance and the Center for Global Business.

This event was sponsored in part by CIBE, a Title VI grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

— By Jordan Heitzner, graduate assistant, Center for Global Business

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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