Updated March 26 at 9:26pm

R.I. exporters encouraged to look to Middle East

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

Why should businesses looking at expanding their overseas exports target the Middle East? More

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R.I. exporters encouraged to look to Middle East

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Why should businesses looking at expanding their overseas exports target the Middle East?

The answer, quite simply, is because despite continued misperceptions of economic and social unrest, the region is primed for welcoming U.S. business, according to those with knowledge on exporting there.

“Up until a couple years ago, [talk was] all about business and economics. Each [Middle East] country has its own opportunities and pitfalls,” said Seth Vogelman, director of trade for Atid, E.D.I., a Jerusalem-based company that provides trade consulting, market research and assessment for United States firms looking to take their products to Israel and the Middle East.

Vogelman, along with Atid, E.D.I. President Sherwin Pomerantz, spoke to about two dozen attendees at a Bryant University Chafee Center for International Business sponsored seminar, ‘Doing Business in the Middle East and Israel.’ The seminar was presented at the R.I. Economic Development Corporation in Providence last week. Vogelman and Pomerantz explained how the region continues to grow as a major export market for U.S.-manufactured products. Having a company such as EDI as a foreign representative is the best way to break into the market, they said.

“Nobody does a better job than a local,” Vogelman said.

The Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University has sponsored and organized several trade missions to foreign countries for Rhode Island businesses with the R.I. Economic Development Corporation. They included one to Israel in November 2011 with 11 Rhode Island businesses and higher education institutions. The Chafee Center has helped run such trips for 25 years.

“We have heard from [all participants] that the [November] trip was extremely fruitful. To our knowledge, each and every [participant] is working on a trade transaction,” said Ray Fogarty, director of the center.

The Cooley Group, a Pawtucket-based developer and manufacturer of engineered, coated fabrics, is said to have secured the largest deal from the trip, Fogarty said. Neither the Chafee Center nor the R.I. Economic Development Corporation would disclose details – financial or otherwise – of the deal. The Cooley Group last week said a representative was not available to comment.

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