Dear International Trade Club members, friends and colleagues -
As we all prepare for the last few days of the holidays and year 2008, I want to again thank each of you for your support of our International Trade Center, our International Trade Club and our many activities over the past year. Your support has made all the difference.
2009 brings with it a new administration for the United States as well as a high degree of economic uncertainly around the world. No one can deny that there are great challenges ahead for all of us.
This week in the Alief edition of the Houston Chronicle, our International Trade Center was featured in a very positive light, for which we are most appreciative.
We hope you will take a moment to read the article by Chronicle writer Betty Martin that we are including below. We feel Ms. Martin did a great job in "summing up" what the ITC is all about and what our goals for the future are.
Thank you again for your support.
Best holiday wishes,
Wea H. Lee, President
International Trade Center
Center providing open door to international trade
By BETTY L. MARTIN HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Dec. 17, 2008, 12:14PM
Major business deals and diplomatic negotiations are being hatched and nourished in the banquet halls and meeting rooms of tenants who now fill the 2-year-old leased offices at the International Trade Center, 11110 Bellaire Blvd.
The complex's founder and chief executive officer, publishing company magnet and International Management District president Wea Lee, and his tenants - consulates, government agencies, trade delegations and businesses from many countries - came together Dec. 9 to celebrate the center's success in the first Parade of Nations event.
"Over the course of a little more than 18 months, we have hosted overseas guests, seminars, conferences and foreign delegations from the Philippines, Argentina, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Nigeria, India, Columbia, Peru, El Salvador, Spain, Mexico, Pakistan, Taiwan and others," said John Robbins, ITC manager.
Since holding its first delegation from the Philippines in November 2006, the center has produced events and seminars about legal compliance and regulations of doing business throughout the world.
It also has partnered with the commercial services division of the U.S. Department of Commerce to help bring international businesses to Houston, Robbins said.
"In the face of today's negative economic realities and rhetoric," Robbins said, "the ITC stands in the breach of worldwide economic challenges and offers business opportunities, business contacts, information, resources, support and networking to businesses and governments from all over the world."
Recent summits in Lima, Peru and Washington, D.C. have emphasized the importance of positive international trade relations, especially vital as economies worldwide are faltering, Robbins said.
"With 1.2 million jobs having been lost in the U.S. alone in 2008, both domestic and international efforts that create jobs are more critical than ever," he said.
The center plans to host in 2009 the Consul General of Canada and international business forums with business interests between the United States and China, and the United States and Russia.
It also intends to lend support to an initiative involving the development of Latin American exports that would create more jobs in Houston.
"We have already started discussions on strategic international business initiatives with Harris County that will catapult our community into markets all over the world," Robbins said.
Said Lee, "It is our vision to promote Harris County around the world."
Lee said the seminars held at the ITC in the past two years have been instrumental in helping small businesses in Houston and across the globe.
He and the center have also helped in creating the International Management District through a bill signed by Texas lawmakers in June.
It could provide up to $1.2 million for additional security for district businesses.
"The world is getting smaller and smaller," Lee said.
Terry Reis, honorary representative of the Consulate of Guyana, which officially opened its headquarters at the ITC Dec. 9, said Texas and California are now the only two states to have an honorary consul to his country.
The 83,000-square-foot country in the northeast corner of South America has 750,000 people.
Guyana, independent from Britain in 1966 and a corporate republic a year later, offers investment opportunities, especially in its main minerals of bauxite, gold and diamonds, Reis said.
"I'm very excited to be a part of this international group," Reis said, "so much so that I've moved in.
"Lee has great vision for the International Trade Center that supports business and stimulates personal relationships in China, locally and overseas."
"As you can see, our plate for the new year is already starting to fill up," Robbins said.