While many Wisconsin businesspeople are intimidated by the challenges presented by markets in the Middle East and Africa, a number of countries across this expansive region offer significant opportunities to companies that do their research and approach key markets in a strategic fashion. Within this part of the world can be found some of the poorest countries in the world and also some of the wealthiest. Demand is strong for infrastructure supplies and equipment, basic and cutting-edge health care devices, energy generation and distribution equipment, information technology, manufacturing equipment, and mining, agriculture and food processing machinery. Although no African countries rank among Wisconsin’s top 20 export destinations, the potential exists for significant growth, as Africa’s economies and population continue to grow. The office of Wisconsin’s trade representative, based in South Africa, serves over 30 countries in Africa and has regional staff in Malawi, Morocco, Mauritius, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, offering vast geographic coverage to Wisconsin exporters. In the Middle East, Wisconsin has trade representation in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. These countries are working to diversify their economies away from petroleum and natural gas extraction. Public infrastructure megaprojects, especially in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are expected to spur strong expansions in the tourism, transportation, construction and wholesale/retail sectors.
The U.S. already is an important wood exporter to South Africa, and experts say South Africa’s own timber industry is scaling back. Read More