Free Trade Agreements Are Seminar Topic

February 23, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — With free trade agreements proliferating, Grand Valley State University’s Van Andel Global Trade Center is hosting a program this month to help local businesses learn about them.

Speaker Robert King, manager of import/export compliance for Alticor’s Access Business Group, said that many Grand Rapids area companies are in the export business.

“It’s surprising in the Grand Rapids area how many small companies actually have a global footprint,” said King, who is scheduled to share the podium with Renee Goetzinger of Steelcase Inc.

With much of Alticor and Amway business occurring overseas, “we have a great interest in free trade agreements,” King said. “We’re currently involved right now with free trade agreements involving eight countries, plus the European Union. We’re keeping a very close eye on four pending ones, including Columbia, Costa Rica, Korea and Panama.

“For us, free trade agreements are market-opening for our products,” King said.

“We’re going to talk a little about the Amway experience that we’ve had with the free trade agreements, the ones we’re currently involved in. We’ll also be talking about some of the things we’ve learned along the way, and some areas to keep really close attention on,” King added.

“One of the things that’s very critical is the country of origin and properly determining, under that particular agreement, what is the proper county of origin. And the origin rules are different by the various agreements,” he said. “That’s something particularly some of the smaller manufacturers will want to pay close attention to.”

The seminar is set for 8:30-11:30 a.m. Feb. 29 at GVSU’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, 301 Michigan St. NE. Cost is $125 for trade center members, or $225 for nonmembers.

Registration is available at www.vagtc.org or by calling 331-6811. The deadline is noon Feb. 28. 

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