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Columbus, Ohio's international wave: bringing worlds apart closer together.

With so much of future economic growth tied to international trade and commerce, the next great cities will be those that manage the three cornerstones of trade; information, people and cargo.

For the city of Columbus, Ohio, this preparation for the future has meant pioneering the marriage of high-end telecommunications technology with the nuts and bolts strategy of establishing a major national distribution center. Through the creation of Trade Point USA, Columbus has established itself as one of fastest growing centers for international trade in the nation.

Trade Point USA came about through the Trade Efficiency Initiative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The Trade Point Program represents a giant step in the opening of global markets, especially to small and medium-sized companies.

The network of trade points, at present some sixty in all, help identify international trading opportunities and provide assistance in establishing relationships that make the trading process faster, cheaper and simpler through the distribution of the world's most powerful business tool -- information.

In Columbus, the Trade Point assists businesses in finding trading partners and efficiently conducting trade without the cumbersome research and paperwork that is generally required. The trade points around the world will share information in such areas as trade leads and customs regulations.

Trade Point USA is designing a system to offer many of the necessary components to conduct a trade transaction in one on-line system, and providing the means for the user to understand and navigate through that process. For example, using the services provided by the Trade Point, potential exporters can access the National Trade Databank organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under its Trade Opportunities Program.

Working in cooperation with the Banker's Association for Foreign Trade, information can be gathered regarding sources of finance for transactions, and techniques for applying for financing and risk management. Ohio's On-Line Export Directory enables users to create multi-media catalogues which can incorporate text, graphics, still pictures, sound and video. The technology provides an attractive alternative to traditional marketing methods.

For Columbus, Trade Point USA is the new bright star in the city's Inland Port Project. Positioning themselves as the domestic and international gateway for the central United States and south-central Canadian markets, Columbus is organizing regional resources to offer solutions to challenges facing distribution-sensitive companies. Formal agreements are already in place with the Port Authorities of New York/New Jersey and Los Angeles, intended to increase the volume of goods through the ports.

When it was established in August 1992, The Columbus Trade Point was designated the only North American Trade Point. However, as part of the recent United Nations International Symposium on World Trade Efficiency, cities in Canada have officially announced their intention to seek recognition as Trade Points. Other nations have begun plans to establish new Trade Points or expand existing ones.
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Title Annotation:Special Report: Going International: A Must Do for Cities
Author:Brookes, James
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 7, 1994
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