Business

Munro urges Kitsap to think global

"Stop being parochial. Start thinking global.That was the message presented by Bill Stafford, president of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, and Ralph Munro, former Washington secretary of state, at a recent International Trade Luncheon hosted by the Port of Bremerton.Nearly 100 local business people squeezed into the banquet room of the Panda Inn Restaurant in Bremerton for the Jan. 25 address.Munro took center stage to advise going global, and spiced his comments with colorful and funny anecdotes.If you want more jobs created in this county, and your young people to have opportunities in the new global economy, said Munro, a Bainbridge resident, then don't wait for Washington (D.C.) to help you. Do it yourself and do it now.Munro, a five-term secretary of state until his retirement last year, called for the formation of a task force to study and promote international trade, and gave tips on how Kitsap County can jump on the economic-globalization bandwagon:l Survey all existing international activity, including business trading, student exchange programs, church-affiliated humanitarian aid and sister-city and sister-school programs.l Avoid letting petty internal city and county jealousies ruin international relations. You may have squabbles here, but you've got to present a united front to outsiders, he said.l Have the state Legislature fund a trade office here. Have one coordinator for all international issues. Maintain a data base. Develop promotional material for international visitors.l Have Olympic College keep tabs on exchange students. Any kid from overseas is probably going back to a pretty influential family, Munro said.l Be patient. Developing international trade is a long-haul process, he said. In China, a contract is merely a lull in the negotiations.Stafford said in his remarks that Kitsap should stop presenting itself to outsiders as separate from Seattle, but as more of a Seattle suburb.The Northwest is one of the most dynamic regions in the world and Seattle is receiving a lot of international press, he said. There's no reason why international companies can't locate here in Bremerton. You're close enough to Seattle so that it won't make any difference to them.During his time in office, Munro led delegations on trade and cultural missions to the former Soviet Union, China, Korea and Japan. He said when visitors make a return visit, that is truly the critical time. Have respect for other cultures, he said. Learn about their traditions and religions. Don't embarrass your guests.Munro said little things like hand gestures or the name of a product might be offensive or comical to outsiders. For example, In South America, (Chevy) 'Nova' means 'doesn't go.'Munro said often, the littlest things go the longest way in promoting international trade.When representatives from a sister city come to visit, make sure you've got a third flagpole in front of city hall for their flag, Munro said. "

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