Institute takes over World Trade Center Association


The World Trade Center Institute, a 2-year-old organization aimed at promoting international trade for Maryland businesses, has taken over the activities of the World Trade Center Association, creating a one-stop shop for companies that need help doing business abroad, the groups announced this week.

But the change may prove costly for some local businesses that now receive help from the World Trade Center Association for free.

The move will allow Maryland businesses working with the institute to gain access to the network of 167 trade centers throughout the world that are members of the World Trade Center Association, according to Elizabeth K. Nitze, executive director of the institute.

That means that companies that want to trade globally no longer will have to work through two organizations, one to receive help at home and one abroad, she explained.

Membership in the association's Baltimore branch, part of the state Department of Transportation, gives companies access to 167 trade offices around the world, in essence an office-away-from-home in those member cities, Ms. Nitze said. It also provides a point of contact to meet prospective trade partners abroad, she said.

The director of Baltimore's World Trade Center Association, Pearl K. Chou, is also manager of the World Trade Center building on Pratt Street at the Inner Harbor. She will keep that job but relinquish her trade center association duties to Ms. Nitze. Ms. Chou declined to comment on the changes.

The World Trade Center Institute, funded by the state legislature and by contributions and dues from private companies, has been creating a network of local government and private-sector sources with international trade experience, Ms. Nitze said. The organization also is arranging seminars on doing business in various countries.

But trade center association members may end up paying for the foreign services of the trade center, which currently cost nothing. Annual corporate membership in the World Trade Center Institute costs from $250 to $1,000 per company, depending on the number of employees. An institute official said that the details on dues for association members have not been finalized.

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