Forging New Opportunities through International Trade Missions

Trade missions are a critical tool for marketing the state. As much as technology has changed the way business is conducted, many cultures still require that face-to-face interaction that comes through marathon business meetings.

The Department of Commerce works closely with the Governor’s office, other agencies, state representatives and economic development organizations to organize and coordinate these delegations to other countries. In some cases, these trade missions are held in concert with international trade shows. Other times, they are to specific countries where Washington has a trade or economic relationship, such as India, China, Korea, Japan or Mexico.

Governor Inslee poses with Chinese officials during a trade mission to China

Participating in a Trade Mission

Led by officials from several state agencies, including the Department of Commerce and occasionally, the Governor or his staff, trade missions allow businesses to establish key relationships and engage in business-to-business and business-to-government meetings that can greatly reduce the sales cycle.

Past trade missions to China, Korea, Japan, United Arab Emirates, India, the United Kingdom, Vietnam and France have established lasting relationships and generated new orders for state businesses.

If you are interested in learning more about upcoming trade missions and how you can become part of an upcoming delegation, contact the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness at (206) 256-6100 or speak directly with an export assistance expert that specializes in your business sector

Trade Mission Benefits

  • Gain access to government representatives who would be difficult to access without an official government-level mission.
  • Find new partners for your products or services.
  • Forge lasting relationships with new suppliers or vendors.
  • Open new markets or discover new opportunities that aren’t yet mainstream knowledge.
  • Participate in international trade shows at a fraction of the cost as a trade mission delegate.
  • Take informative tours of facilities and production sites. Meet key business decision makers.
  • Network with other Washington businesses as well as representatives from state agencies, and at select events, the Governor.

Past Trade Missions

Delegates and partners listen to an address by Commerce Director Brian Bonlender

Japan - Korea

More than 100 delegates accompanied Governor Jay Inslee on a nine-day trade mission to Korea and Japan where they met with top-level business and government leaders to promote trade and collaboration on everything from aerospace and wine to emergency preparedness and climate change. Several memorandums of understanding were signed, opening new doors to international cooperation.

Attendees watch a presentation on information technology in India


With one of the fastest growing consumer populations, India was a natural choice for opening new doors to trade, cultural exchanges and hopefully, business partnerships. The state's delegation, led by the Washington State Department of Commerce investment and trade team, was well received by the business community in the many cities visited and several Indian businesses have visited Washington following the trade mission to explore investment and expansion options in the state.

Tokyo Tech Mission


An overflow crowd listened to a select group of Washington technology companies share how they are pioneering AI and machine learning. The state's delegation was led by the Washington State Department of Commerce trade team and are targeting business opportunities in Japan. The delegation had one-on-one meetings with Japanese tech firms and investors along with site visits to renowned tech companies. Learn more about the Washington State delegation to Tokyo.

Need help?

To learn more about upcoming trade missions and how you can become a delegate, call us at 206-256-6100 or speak directly with an export assistance expert in the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness who specializes in your business sector.

Learn more about the role of Small Business Export Assistance in the Department of Commerce as well as its legislative mandates.