How to do Business in Foreign Markets

A continuing series of takeaways from World Trade Day 2018.

Doing Business in Canada and Mexico

At World Trade Day on April 10, we hosted a breakout session on “Doing Business in Canada and Mexico”. These countries are Indiana’s top two export markets – 48% of Indiana’s merchandise trade went to Canada and Mexico in 2017. Therefore, they have a major influence on our market.

The presenters were Brittany Foley, trade commissioner for the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit and Angel Habid Ramirez, director of the Trade and Investment Commission Eastern Midwest US for ProMexico.

Highlights from the presentations were:


  • Our economies are closely linked.
  • Given collaboration between industries across our borders, it would be accurate to say that the US and Canada make things together.
  • Consulate General of Canada in Detroit
  • Trade services are based at the consulate, which serves Indiana in addition to Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. They serve Canadian businesses coming into the US and can be a resource for American companies entering Canada.
  • Resources form the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service
  • Trade commissioners can help businesses expand to global markets, find key contacts, connect to global networks of professionals, gain business insight, reduce risks, find business opportunities, and resolve problems in foreign markets.



  • Mexico’s strengths
  • The country’s strengths include its economic size, demographics, healthy public finances, productivity, manufacturing capabilities, and position as a top foreign direct investment and tourist destination.
  •  Mexico has free trade agreements with 46 countries, giving it privileged access to those markets.
  • Global manufacturing
  • Mexico has strengths in the following sectors of the manufacturing industry: automotive and auto parts, aerospace, household products, IT, electronics, and medical devices.
  • Perceptions and NAFTA
  • There is a high level of integration between American and Mexican industries due to NAFTA. As for perceptions about US jobs and NAFTA, rapid technological changes and automation have led to the majority of job losses in the manufacturing sector.
  •  ProMexico
  • This office is an entity of the Mexican government that supports business both ways between Mexico and other countries: internationalization, FDI, and exports.


Doing Business in Australia and Germany

At World Trade Day on April 10, we hosted a breakout session on “Doing Business in Australia and Germany”, as both markets provide excellent opportunities for Indiana businesses.

The presenters were Consul-General Michael Wood, from the Australian Consulate in Chicago, and Virginia Rounds, from the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, where she is director of the Skills Initiative & ICATT Apprenticeship Program.

In addition to promoting international trade with the United States, here were the key takeaways from our speakers:

Australia: Consul-General Michael Wood

  • “For an American in Australia, it is incredibly easy to do business.”
  • Because Australia and the US have so much in common, from attitudes and values to demeanor when dealing with others and when conducting business, Americans naturally feel comfortable there. Even the legal system in Australia is similar to that in the US.
  • “Over time Australia has transformed into a truly Asian nation.”
  • Because of its location in the Pacific region, Australia relies heavily on trade with Asian nations. Consequently, Australia has become a popular destination for Asian tourists and immigrants.
  • One benefit of this strategic location is that Australia can also serve as a launching pad for businesses looking to expand into Asia, often considered a complex and challenging part of the world.
  • “We are early adopters.”
  • Companies have chosen Australia as a willing and eager partner to test out pilot programs for new products and emerging technologies. For example, McDonald’s chose to try out their all-day breakfast in Australia before bringing it to the US.


Germany: Ms. Virginia Rounds

  • “If you are looking to export to Germany or use it as a launching pad into Eastern Europe, be sure to do your homework.”
  • When looking to enter the German market, it is vital to conduct thorough research on the market and its complexities. Make sure your product will be a good fit.
  • Also, understand the sales process in Germany. For example, German companies often do not use sales channel partners or distributors. The model there is more focused on direct sales due to the concentration of people.
  • “Americans sell with PowerPoint. Germans sell with Excel.”
  • The culture in Germany is very data driven. For a German customer, they are less impressed with flashy presentations than with an organized data sheet, clearly explaining a point.
  • At a typical German trade show, the booth wouldn’t be manned by a salesperson, it would be manned by a C-level executive expecting to dive into the numbers and do business.
  • In the same regard, Americans customers tend to focus on speed of service. An average German customer, however, won’t be as concerned with speed but will expect the work done right.
  • “German employees will address each other as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ even after working together for twenty years.”
  • There are a number of differences in the way Americans conduct business vs. the way Germans do.
  • When conducting business, Germans tend to be very direct and discuss with passion and force. Then afterward, they may all go out for a beer.
  • There is also a high value placed on planning during projects. If the American style is to learn by trial and error, the German way is the opposite. Often Germans will meticulously plan before even beginning to ensure a job is done correctly.
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