No one can argue that international trade consulting opens doors to a lot of travel — sometimes nearby, sometimes halfway around the world.  In October 2012, we spent three days in Buffalo, NY attending the Ontario Motor Coach Association Annual Meeting, working with members of our US-Canada Motor Coach Coalition on ways to make the border easier for cross-border bus travel.

Border regions like Buffalo-Niagara are also a focus of our recent work to launch the Great Lakes Regional Council with the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto and the Canada-United States Law Institute of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. This is an exciting initiative that will provide a convening authority and unified voice for the eight states and two provinces of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. The Council will serve as an umbrella organization for existing GL organizations and have an independent agenda focusing on economic and environmental issues.  We are eagerly looking forward to the launch in Cleveland on April 11-12, 2013.

If maple syrup on the northern border is not your thing, then how about a sazerac in New Orleans? In early September, Laura presented a paper on access to credit for women entrepreneurs at an OAS meeting for Latin American officials responsible for small business.  Those who have been following us on this issue know that Secured Transactions Reform is a simple banking reform that can transform micro-business to macro-business and provides a road out of poverty for women (and others) in developing countries around the world.  Dawson Strategic is focusing our pro bono resources on STR to try to encourage governments and development agencies to take up this important issue. (The OAS conference was a follow-up to the terrific July 2012 Institute of the Americas STR conference that we assisted with in Atlanta, Georgia — quite possibly the friendliest and most loquacious city in the world.)

Also on the pro-bono front, Laura accepted a position on the advisory board of the Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization. This Kabul-based organization is doing excellent, practical work to make the lives of everyday Afghans better – especially in the areas of trade, entrepreneurship, and women’s security. The relationship with these Afghan researchers was the result of two fascinating weeks spent in Kyrgyzstan in August 2012 working with economic officials from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan to help them develop regional trade strategies and manage economic relations with China.  Thanks to the wonderful Aga Khan Development Network  for their leadership and to Centre for Trade Policy and Law and University of Central Asia for collegial support.