World Trade Centers offers a helping hand to create resilient, interconnected supply chains

Global non-profit organization has hundreds of local chapters, helping connecting businesses with trade opportunities

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When a European buyer was interested in purchasing an American automobile, they needed to know if they could get it exported. That buyer turned to the World Trade Centers Delaware for help. The Delaware-based organization was able to confirm the automobile was a legit item, and that the seller was a trusted seller. And then the organization helped the buyer connect with a firm dedicated to exporting automobiles.

In today’s interconnected global supply chain, the ability to ensure trust is paramount. To do so at a time when nearshoring efforts are taking place across the globe, leading to companies seeking out new suppliers in new regions where they have little information, means trust must be developed quickly.

The global non-profit business association World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) is there to do just that. The Delaware branch is just one of hundreds of local WTCA organizations that are connected by a single mission—to improve global trade. The network of more than 300 highly connected, mutually supporting businesses and organizations in 91 countries uses a portfolio of events, programming and resources that it offers members to help local economies thrive by encouraging and facilitating trade and investment across the globe. 

For companies looking to build resilient supply chains, it can offer that trust that may otherwise be lacking.

Carla Stone, president of World Trade Center Delaware, tells Supply Chain Management Review that the organization is able to do much more than just connecting a European car buyer with the right resources. Her organization is a key conduit to business investment in Delaware and can help firms locate the resources they need, including financing and trade assistance such as freight forwarders, local trucking companies, and much more.

Each WTC is locally owned, she said, but they all have a mandate to provide help when asked. If a Delaware company is looking for assistance in Bengaluru, for instance, the Delaware organization is able to reach out to the local Bengaluru organization for assistance.

Current trade issues

Stone says that while global trade is expanding in most areas, some locations are seeing contraction due to many of the commonly identified supply chain disruptions. Geopolitical issues are a big concern these days, she says, with the Red Sea and trade disputes taking center stage.

Domestically, the CHIPS ActInfrastructure Investment and Jobs ActInflation Reduction Act, and the Build America, Buy America Act are all contributing to growth, and that is leading to more companies looking into the U.S.

At the same time, the appetite for continued exposure to China continues to change among North American companies, with nearly three-quarters of companies in a 2023 AlixPartners’ survey saying they had already started to reduce their exposure to China, and more than half planning to reduce exposure this year by more than 10%.

The results found that companies are generally targeting a 40% reduction in their share of sourcing from China to reduce exposure, with the U.S. (plus 30%) and Mexico (plus 10%) expected to see the biggest gains. While the effort remains in the early stages, AlixPartners found that companies are making decisions on make vs. buy strategies and investing in supplier development, logistics and distribution footprint changes, and global procurement cost modeling.

Key concerns

Stone says that one of the top concerns from companies she is seeing is about competition, access to suppliers and supplies, and the timeliness of shipping.

“Are there alternatives to traditional trade routes? How do you prepare?” she asks. “We are very lucky here in Delaware that there are a lot of alternatives for supply chains. We have the port of Wilmington … we have several rail lines, trucking, and major transportation corridors.”

The state is also close to both the Philadelphia and Baltimore airports in addition to its own in Wilmington. “Our location gives us a lot of advantages and these advantages and alternatives give the ability to manufacture locally and transport around the world,” Stone adds.

The benefits of global assistance

In addition to helping locate resources for businesses, Stone points to another benefit that WTCA members offer that showed itself during Covid.

“For Covid, we knew it was going to come to the U.S. because we were in constant with our partners in China,” she says. “By December 2019, we knew … and we were starting to get requests from companies in China [looking for supply chain assistance].”

By January 2019, Stone says World Trade Center Delaware was hosting a panel on global trade and how to handle the Covid impact.

“I can’t tell you how being a member of this worldwide trade association [creates agility],” Stone says. “If we don’t have the answer, someone will.”

In 2024, trade may be global, but it is also local, and World Trade Centers is on the frontlines to help facilitate it. Whether it is verifying companies or helping find a supplier—or even assisting with the export of a single automobile, WCTA members are helping global trade become a local success story.

“I think the key is relationships,” Stone says. “I think it is important to form relationships with companies, agencies, that can help and understand that there are organizations out there that can help.”


Building resilient supply chains requires trust, and the World Trade Centers is helping foster that with locations around the globe, connecting companies with local resources.
(Photo: Pexels/Nataliya Vaitkevich)
Building resilient supply chains requires trust, and the World Trade Centers is helping foster that with locations around the globe, connecting companies with local resources.
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About the Author

Brian Straight, SCMR Editor in Chief
Brian Straight's Bio Photo

Brian Straight is the Editor in Chief of Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered trucking, logistics and the broader supply chain for more than 15 years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children. He can be reached at [email protected], @TruckingTalk, on LinkedIn, or by phone at 774-440-3870.

View Brian's author profile.


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