What is a trade mission?
A trade mission is a visit organised by
an individual or organisation of a group of business people
(usually exporters or importers, but which may include
investors and business persons with other intentions)
to another country with the purpose of encourage trade
to take place between the visitors and the business community
in the target country. Trade missions are a popular way
of facilitating international trade.
Trade missions are commonly organised by
governments, chambers of commerce, industry associations,
development organisations or any similar organisation.
It is also quite common for a trade mission to accompany
senior government officials such as Ministers (and even
the President) who are visiting a particular country to
foster better relations with that country. Trade missions
are generally divided into two types, namely inward trade
missions and outward trade missions. Trade missions may
also be general in nature (in the sense that they cover
several industries, as well as consumer and industrial
goods), or industry-specific.
Participating in a trade mission is a good
idea as these missions can be quite an effective marketing
tool if you manage them properly. Although trade missions
normally are organised by a third-party – a government
department, chamber of commerce or industry association – it
is crucial that you also manage your own participation
time and activities within the confines of the visit as
a whole, if you wish to maximise the value of the visit
Inward trade missions
An inward trade mission involves a group
of foreign business persons that travel to South Africa
to discuss business. Depending on the nature and purpose
of the trade mission, the participants may be exporters
or importers (or investors). If they are exporters, then
it is unlikely that the mission will be of interest to
local South African exporters. Local exporters are really
only likely to be interested in missions comprising importers
(also sometimes referred to as ‘import missions’).
The visit may be arranged from either the foreign side
or the South Africa side, but either way, there will be
organisers on both sides ensuring that the visit is successful
(import missions are usually arranged on the invitation
of the local export community who will play a key role
in facilitating the visit).
Please also visit this page for more detailed information about the dti's EMIA scheme and inward trade missions.
Outward trade missions
An outward trade mission involves a group
of local business persons (usually exporters, but it could
comprise importers or investors), that travel abroad to
meet with the business community in a particular foreign
country. As with inward trade missions, they can be arranged
on the initiative of either side, but export missions
are usually initiated from the exporting country.
While trade missions are common and take
place fairly regularly, they do not take place every week
or even every month. You may find that there are only
four or five trade missions (inward and outward) per year.
You need to be alert to these missions, scanning the business
sections or newspapers, reading the newsletters of chambers
and trade associations, and keeping an eye on the DTI’s
Please also visit this page for more detailed information about the dti's EMIA scheme and outward-bound trade missions.