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Arkansas Secretary of State, WTCAR partner to recruit exporting companies, develop multitrack diplomacy

The Arkansas Secretary of State has offices in the Arkansas Capitol Building in Little Rock. Photo Courtesy of Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin visited the World Trade Center Arkansas Monday, March 13.

Martin met with Melvin Torres, director of Latin American Trade, and a representative from an aerospace company looking at strategic locations throughout the country from which to incorporate and trade.

Torres also arranged meetings with other state leaders including the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and representatives from the state’s congressional delegation.

“This was an opportunity for us to convince companies of Arkansas’ strategic advantages,” Torres said. “Not only is aerospace Arkansas’ largest export by dollar value, placing them among good company, but they would have access to major U.S. cities through our interstate system, thousands of miles of navigable waterways and Class I rail. Furthermore, they would enjoy incredible support from our trade experts, economic development partners and our congressional and state delegation.”

Torres worked with Martin, who, in addition to performing a wide range of other duties for the state, provides a starting point for entrepreneurs and corporations looking to conduct business in Arkansas.

“As a matter of commerce, the biggest role and responsibility I have is with business and commercial services,” said Martin. ”We work with corporations in Arkansas and we’re responsible for administering the Uniform Commercial Code in the state of Arkansas.”

Developing Multitrack Diplomacy

The World Trade Center Arkansas, an affiliate of the University of Arkansas and part of its land-grant mission of service to the state,  has worked with Martin in the past on multiple projects including an effort to equip his office with the necessary standards of decorum and protocol to greet foreign delegations when they visit the capital.

“One of the interesting things about the international aspects of the Secretary of State is that they tended to be a lot less formal when I took office,” he said. “But other countries view the Arkansas Secretary of State much as they view the United States Department of State even though our roles are not the same.”

The Arkansas Secretary of State is not responsible for administering diplomacy and negotiating trade, however Martin is often the first point of contact for foreign representatives wishing to engage with Arkansas due to foreign conceptions about his office.

“That means that when we have foreign visitors reach out and come to the state capital to do business then they need to be greeted in a way that welcomes them,” he said. “When I first came into office, there was not a lot being done to make sure that we did those necessary things from a protocol and decorum standpoint. We reached out first to the World Trade Center Arkansas and Dan and Denise have been instrumental in making sure that we were equipped to that job.”

This relationship with the World Trade Center Arkansas has grown strong enough so that Martin and his office are now even able to provide outbound delegations from the legislature with the standards of protocol and decorum to effectively represent Arkansans all across the world.

Partnership with the World Trade Center Arkansas

In considering the role of the Secretary of State and his office’s relationship with the World Trade Center Arkansas, Martin believes it’s important to remember that his office is not responsible for track one diplomacy, or official government negotiations within official channels, which is reserved for the State Department and the governor.

“One of the things that I think is really important about developing our relationship and the role of the Secretary of State is that we can provide multitrack diplomacy,” he said. “What that means is citizen diplomacy, business diplomacy and developing the government relationships with individuals within those countries – making sure that when people from other countries come to Arkansas, they feel welcome.”

Multitrack diplomacy draws its strength from the fact that those involved enjoy a greater amount of freedom to develop strong, mutually beneficial personal relationships between citizens of different countries across multiple institutions including agriculture, business, education and government.

The partnerships the World Trade Center Arkansas enjoys with the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Arkansas Farm Bureau, and businesses throughout the state mean that by working together with the Arkansas Secretary of State, the two institutions can organize and execute a powerful degree of multilateral diplomacy to serve Arkansas.

About the World Trade Mission Arkansas: The mission of the World Trade Center Arkansas is to grow trade and increase Arkansas exports by connecting Arkansas businesses to the world through international trade services. For more information and valuable updates, please follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to the World Trade Center Arkansas newsletter below.