N.H.’s commercial consul makes connections work in France

While travel-savvy American businesspeople may be familiar with the work of U.S. consulates in foreign countries, the role of a state’s commercial consuls is not as well known.

The New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center, which focuses on promoting international trade, works with a cadre of commercial consuls, including those to Brazil, France, Scotland, Asia, China and Cuba.

“In a nutshell, we’re charged with representing and furthering the interests of New Hampshire’s business community in a specific country,” said John Wilson, New Hampshire’s commercial consul to France. “For instance, I can assist if a New Hampshire company is interested in exporting its products or services to France, or if the company wants to open or expand its business there.”

Each of New Hampshire’s commercial consuls brings a different background and skill set to the table, but all are uniquely qualified.

Wilson is a partner in GoffWilson law firm, which specializes in immigration law and has offices in Concord and Nashua as well as in Paris, France. Originally a corporate attorney, Wilson took up immigration law in part to assist French clients. This, in turn, led him to establish an office in France, which he visits, on average, six times a year. This has enabled Wilson to develop connections within French bureaucracy, and he has forged ties with the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris as well.

“There is so much to setting up an international business. It would be overwhelming, if not virtually impossible, for a business to do it alone,” Wilson cautions. “As a commercial consul, I serve as a facilitator, putting businesses in touch with the right organizations and individuals. For example, in working with a New Hampshire high-tech business, I could guide them through the necessary steps in setting up the business, getting patents and financial backing, finding the right banks and tax consultants, and so on.”

Wilson points out that France is fertile ground for New Hampshire businesses. Exports to France from New Hampshire increased 59 percent between 2004 and 2005 to approximately $74 million. He sees the Alsace region as an especially promising area, thanks in part to its highly educated workforce, reasonable cost of living and positive business environment.

“ITRC is considering doing a trade mission to Europe, possibly in 2007. France will logically be a focus. Any New Hampshire business interested in exploring opportunities in the international market, including France, would be well advised to start working with ITRC and the commercial consuls now,” Wilson said. “Then they’ll be poised to move forward quickly to take advantage of the opportunities as they arise.”

John Wilson can be contacted at GoffWilson P.A., Two Capital Plaza, Suite 403, Concord, N.H. 03301. Telephone: 228-1277. In France, Goff and Wilson is located at 91, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. 75008 Paris, France. Telephone: (01) 44-71-35-28.

This article appears through a partnership with the New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center.

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