Challenging issues like doing business in Eastern Europe, Africa or Central Asia are standing on the agenda of the Worldwide Cargo Marketing group (WCM) at their Hong Kong conference held from 5 to 6 May. One point of utmost importance for the delegates joining the Hong Kong meeting of the Worldwide Cargo Marketing alliance will be to learn more about the situation their members based in CIS states or Eastern Europe are currently facing in light of the growing tensions between Russia and the West. We addressed WCM’s Managing Director Steven Alves to give us an overview on what the delegates can expect from the conference.
Q: Steven, last time it was Bangkok, this year it’s HKG where WCM is hosting its annual conference. How many attendees do you expect and – more important – what makes it
worthwhile for WCM members to show up?
A: We are expecting 55-60 delegates for our second annual conference. It is beneficial for the members to attend so that they can participate in bilateral sales sessions and attend business development presentations. We are excited to have two dynamic presentations aimed at growing business among the members and highlighting developing economies. The first will be a presentation on doing business in Russia and the CIS Countries, and the second presentation will be on doing business in Africa. Both presentations will be by local market experts from those regions.
Q: What other main topics stand on your schedule for being discussed during your upcoming convention?
A: In addition to the above, we will also have a discussion on time critical shipments and a special break out session for members who specialize in this niche freight market.
Q: As you just mentioned doing biz in Russia and the CIS countries is one of the program highlights. Does your alliance expect any negative effects for your local members as result of the Ukraine conflict and the growing East-West tensions?
A: We would expect the trade lanes to become more challenging, but this is all the more reason to have local market representatives address the group and share their knowledge and expertise on how best to conduct business in the region despite the current tensions.
Q: Among other major issues to be tabled at your HKG gathering are opportunities emerging for forwarders in the African market. What are WCM’s expectations there?
A: We are cautiously optimistic. The African market is notoriously hazardous, but the economic growth in certain markets can no longer be ignored. Our local African partners will present their view on how best to move forward in their markets, and WCM will work closely with them in the coming months and years to fully develop our network throughout the continent.
Q: The conference program offers ample room for face-to-face meetings. Why are these direct contacts so important?
A: The best international business cooperation is built upon mutual trust, respect, and friendship. The bilateral meetings are crucial in helping to develop such relationships. Time is taken during those meeting to catch up with each other, discuss past business, and plan for addition future business development. Often times, two agents may sit together and not have any mutual business to discuss, but they develop a personal relationship and lay the foundation that over time can grow into excellent cooperation.
Q: Finally, where and when will next year’s general meeting take place?
A: We will decide the 2015 location during our Hong Kong conference.
Thank you for this overview.