Dan Hendrix of the World Trade Center Arkansas On How the World Views Arkansas

Dan Hendrix grew up in Fort Smith, attended the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He has had a 40-year career in transportation, import/export operations, marketing, development, logistics and administration. He established the Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations for the UA and spearheaded the establishment of the World Trade Center Arkansas in 2007.

Q: Does the World Trade Center Arkansas focus on only promoting Arkansas exports or does it have a role in importing goods into Arkansas as well?

A: We support bilateral trade, but our emphasis is to expand Arkansas exports. We have a key mission to increase jobs through trade and encourage strong global partnerships that will grow our businesses, manufacturers, agricultural producers, services and emerging technologies.

What are some common steps the center takes to introduce an Arkansas company into an international market?

There are several ways we promote Arkansas companies:

1. Outbound trade missions, in which we identify potential exporters through our partners: local chambers, the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Little Rock, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Small Business Administration, Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Arkansas companies then can attend sector-specific trade shows in conjunction with the Commerce Department, American Chambers of Commerce country offices and the 300-plus World Trade Centers in 97 countries. These groups help arrange vetted business-to-business meetings.

2. Inbound trade missions, a kind of reverse trade mission in which we bring potential buyers to this country to meet with businesses looking to sell products.

3. Commercial diplomacy, where we host country presidents, ambassadors and consul generals, introducing them to Arkansas business, education and political leaders. Fifty-two dignitaries from 25 countries have visited the state so far, and when these diplomats return to their home country, they have a positive business view of Arkansas.

4. Foreign trade shows and the World Trade Center General Assembly. We inform Arkansas businesses about shows at which they can promote their products.

What products do other countries want from Arkansas?

Our larger export sectors are aircraft, aircraft parts and engines, poultry products and other proteins, rice, soybeans, cotton, machinery and emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, renewable energy and water systems.

What are the most challenging imports and exports — agriculture products, foods, electronics?

Most areas of trade come with regulatory restrictions, trade laws and tariffs as generally determined by the World Trade Organization. It’s important to have an understanding of what this could mean as companies expand or explore exporting their products or services.

What are some notable successes for the center? Can you quantify any?

While we can’t divulge specific company information, the trade center supported several export efforts. And Arkansas companies that have participated in foreign trade missions with the WTC Arkansas have reported generating about $17 million in new sales. Nine Arkansas companies participated in ExpóComer, a large trade show in Panama in March, which generated new sales for these companies.

Dan Hendrix was recently nominated as honorary consul for the Republic of Panama by President Ricardo Martinelli.