GWCi Founder, Dr. Sharon T. Freeman, acquired her foundational knowledge about the business and mechanics of exporting and importing in Hong Kong starting in 1985 when she teamed up with the then the largest US-owned firm exporting apparel from Hong Kong, Lark International. After serving in the Diplomatic Service in Hong Kong, Dr. Freeman formed the Lark-Horton Global Consulting under the wing of Lark International. The consulting firm leveraged Lark International’s network of manufacturing and trading offices throughout Asia and Dr. Freeman’s (Horton) extensive network of public and private sector contacts in Asia that she developed during her service as Regional Director for Asia of the then Trade Development Program (TDP).
The “how to” questions of Lark-Horton’s clients included “how to” access opportunities in Asian countries; “how to” attract manufacturing investment from Asian countries; “how to” export from and import into Asian countries; and most importantly, “how to” do business in China. The latter was a particular niche of the consulting firm, as Dr. Freeman had been one of the first persons to work in China in 1979 after it opened. She continued to work in China and traveled there on a monthly basis for years to conduct client assignments, such as helping the Flyer Tigers research the China air cargo market; helping Soros Associates develop inroads into port development opportunities; and helping such US companies as Foster Wheeler, Dravo, Tootal Thread, and others gain a foothold into the China market.
Upon establishing an operational base in Washington, DC in the mid-1990s, after having worked in Hong Kong for 12 consecutive years, the Lark-Horton practice continued to provide export-related advice to clients, but from the other perspective of “how to” export from the US to China. As her export consultancy grew, the “how to” questions posed broadened and included such clients as foreign countries, USG agencies, and private firms that wanted saw export development as a key economic growth driver.
The mid-and late 1990s was an important time in the export development sphere. As countries were emerging from command economies, international development institutions sought to provide assistance and drew on the services of Lark-Horton to help inform and craft export development strategies for various nations. Dr. Freeman distilled lessons learned from the “Asian Miracle” and helped craft export development strategies for such countries post-command economy countries as Bosnia, Macedonia, the Republic of Georgia, Tanzania; and for other striving countries such as Honduras, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and many other countries. Such assignments also typically included providing advice on establishing and/or promoting Free Trade Zones.
While foreign countries increasingly focused on “how to” promote exporting from their countries, so did the US Government. As the importance of promoting exporting among small and minority firms became clear, Dr. Freeman’s consulting firm and her All American Small Business Exporters Association (www.AASBEA.com) were retained to provide exporting training; to write export “how to” books; and to provide one-on-one counseling to the constituencies of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and others.
Given her in-depth knowledge of the global trading system, Dr. Freeman became an Advisor on Trade to the Secretary of Commerce, the USTR, and to the Export-Import Bank starting in the 1990s and continuing today. The State Department regularly engages Dr. Freeman to travel around the world to explain US Trade and Agreements.
GWCi leverages the decades-long experience of Dr. Freeman and that of her partner in AASBEA, Peter Hagos Gebre, who is an expert on trade facilitation and trade promotion and who formerly served as the Government of Ethiopia’s Trade Department. GWCi also has a network of experts that can be engaged to respond to specific technical issues in exporting, importing, and trade agreement compliance.