In a recent blog post titled “Enter the dragon: FBN heads to China for an up-close look at its growing wood product markets,” I told you about my trip to China on Sept. 7 to attend an introductory trade servicing mission hosted by the Softwood Export Council (SEC) and American Softwoods China. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to do so as I explain how you can be eligible to participate in the SEC’s numerous wood product trade missions, expos and meetings around the world. This is an ideal way to get acquainted with foreign markets and network with buyers in countries hungry for North American wood products.
As promised in that blog post, I want to tell you more about the SEC’s Association Company Participation Program (ACPP), which offers you an incredible cost-savings when participating in SEC trade events. The short and sweet of it: The SEC will pay for 75% of the cost of your SEC-hosted trips through the ACP Program while you are responsible for the remaining 25%. That’s quite the cost-savings when you consider how pricey international airline tickets are these days, let alone hotel and food expenses. You’re probably thinking a deal this good requires you to jump through a lot of hoops. In fact, the ACP Program could not be an easier way to save big on SEC trade events.
By the way, check out the SEC event calendar to see what’s available for your company.
Here’s how the ACP Program works…
- Your company/association must be a member of an SEC member association.
- Costs are only covered for U.S. trade events that promote U.S. softwood products.
- All U.S. federal travel regulations apply:
- U.S. airline for travel to and from the U.S. (passenger receipt required for reimbursement);
- Air fare limited to full fare coach; and
- Reimbursement limited to the generous U.S.-published travel per diems for hotels, meals, and incidental expenses (M&IE).
What you need to do:
- Select the event you want to attend and notify your member association and the SEC. Note that the SEC and its international staff may help with travel arrangements (hotel reservations, trade show registrations, etc.), so be sure to ask.
- Book your airline ticket on U.S. carriers only.
- Attend the event and pay for all your trip expenses as they are incurred.
- Within one to three weeks after your trip, submit an expense report with the following receipts:
- Airline passenger receipt;
- Hotel folio receipt; and
- Receipts for all ground transportation — taxis, trains, etc.
- Note that sending receipts for food and incidental costs to the SEC is not required as these costs are covered under the daily federal per diems allowed on the trip for the country/locations you are in. You receive the government per diem rate regardless of your actual food expenditures on the trip.
Once the SEC receives your expense report, they return a check for the full amount of reimbursable travel expenses, and an invoice for 25% of the cost of the trip which you are required to pay. This is all fairly straightforward, yes?
The Softwood Export Council’s Association Company Participation Program is just another way the SEC helps you promote your softwood products to overseas markets. With domestic housing markets floundering, it could not be a more perfect time to start looking into the sales opportunities that foreign markets offer. Consider the SEC (and its ACP Program) your key for opening those new doors.
I’ll be blogging on the China trade mission experience itself when I return so you can get a good feel for what to expect on a trade mission trip. Look for information and photos on that very soon.
Tom Waddell is Forest Business Network’s VP of Marketing & Sales.
Photo at top: Joe Gough / Shutterstock.com