Twenty-three trade representatives from 23 countries including Australia, Brazil and China are in Pittsburgh on Monday as the 12th annual Pennsylvania International Week made its stop in the city.
The touring business conference is at Two Chatham Center and will move to Heinz Field Tuesday morning.
Peter O’Neill, executive director for the state Center of Trade Development, said this month is the best time to make new business connections.
“We find September to be the beginning of the business cycle, and this is the good time to bring over all of these international consultants and really charge our system with all types of new work,” he said.
O’Neill likened the event to a more thoughtful form of speed dating. He said people have the opportunity to sit down with the international trade representatives for brief 30-minute meetings and set up business strategies for the following year.
O’Neill said meeting with representatives is the best way for a business to form international networks.
“Ride a wave,” he said. “Rather than try to swim against the current, look for companies that are already shipping similar products around the world and see if we can get you into those similar markets. That would be the start.”
Canada is Pennsylvania’s largest trade partner, with merchandise exports totaling $11.4 billion. Other leading international business partners include China, Mexico, Japan and Germany.
The tour typically spends a single day at each of its destinations, but O’Neill said they had to make an exception for Pittsburgh.
“We find the business community is rich enough and interested enough that we can justify spending two days in Pittsburgh,” he said.
In a written statement, C. Alan Walker, secretary for the Department of Community and Economic Development, said the Office of International Development helped Pennsylvania businesses bring in about $60 million in export sales last year.
The tour will travel to Erie on Wednesday.