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By Karen E. Klein

Discovering America: A Spaniard Seeks a U.S. Beachhead
Spanish trade missions provide a compass for local companies eyeing foreign markets

Q: We are a very active Spanish manufacturer of vacuum packers. We would like to get in touch with U.S.-based processing and packaging machinery importers and distributors. We currently export to many European countries but lack the information to get into the U.S. market. Can you help us?
--J.V., Spain

A: The Madrid-based Trade Commission of Spain has offices in the U.S. that exist primarily to help facilitate commerce between U.S. and Spanish companies. The commission's industrial products division, based in Chicago, can help you research the potential market for your products. It also facilitates transactions. The office is located at 500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1500, Chicago, Ill. 60611, and the telephone number is (312) 644-1154.

"We provide information to both sides. If any Spanish company needs information about the U.S. market or any American company needs information about companies in Spain, we provide it," says Aitor Sotes, a market analyst for the industrial products division. "We also act as a mediator to set up business meetings, make information from our database of companies available, and organize trips to Spain for American businessmen or trips for Spanish businessmen to visit here."

Sotes says he always encourages international companies interested in doing business in the U.S. to attend industry trade shows here. "American companies do exhibit in Europe, but the best way to get to know the American market and American manufacturers -- if you decide it is worth investing in the U.S. -- is to come here," Sotes says.

His office has the details on various industry trade shows. One of the largest gatherings for packagers is called PackExpo, sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturer's Institute, a trade association based in Arlington, Va., whose phone number is (703) 243-8555. The annual trade show, held in conjunction with the International Exposition of Food Processors, is scheduled for Oct. 18-20 in Las Vegas. The show's Web site,, includes industry information that you may find helpful.

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