The Continued Power Of The WTCA Network

Annie S.C. Wu, Director, World Trade Center Nansha


As we kick off our year-long 50th Anniversary campaign, we asked long-time Member and Lifetime Honorary Board Director, Ms. Annie S.C. Wu, to reflect on her time as part of the WTCA.

I was first introduced to the World Trade Centers Association network when I helped set up the World Trade Centre Club Hong Kong (WTCC HK) on April 1, 1976. In order to fully understand the mission of the WTCA, I visited the organization’s headquarters in New York City just a few weeks after setting up the Club, in mid-April. Shortly after that, the late Guy Tozzoli, then-Director of the World Trade Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, returned with a delegation for a visit to our WTCC HK on July 1, 1976 — the Club’s first official day open. During those visits I quickly learned the core purpose of the WTCA: to connect with, and offer reciprocity to, our valuable global network of WTC Members. While much has changed over 40-plus years, WTCC HK has maintained its focus on global networking.

Since its inception, the Club has been the gateway for all WTCs’ travels to China and has also become the link to assist WTCA to recruit members within the country. The first region to join was Shanghai in 1982, quickly followed by Nanjing, Guangzhou, and Beijing. In the years that followed, other cities such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Xi’an, and Tianjin were added to the association’s roster. As these members have joined across China, our collective ability to participate within and utilize the WTCA network has increased accordingly.

Specifically, the WTCA has been a useful platform for delegations from various Chinese cities to attend the General Assemblies (GAs) overseas. Some former senior government officials have participated in GAs, such as Madam Wu Yi, acting as the keynote speaker at the WTCA GA in the Minnesota State Capital in 1990. WTCA GAs have also been hosted in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, allowing WTCA members to travel throughout other regions of China for trade and networking opportunities. These GA experiences have allowed WTCC HK to learn about trade and investment from other overseas members, and provided a unique opportunity to visit other WTCs to exchange information.

In looking beyond China, my experience as an active Director on the Board of the WTCA gave me a wide view of everything happening around the globe and our network. I can say confidently that the Association has provided that same platform for Members in all its regions, from Asia-Pacific, to Africa and the Middle East, and from India to Europe and the Americas. Those early days of the WTCA showed such promise for our Membership, and I am delighted to share this 50th Anniversary with all of the rest of our global collection of trade and investment leaders. While the future is never clear, and the world has gone through so much change and flux since our founding in 1969, we have only grown stronger.

As global business continues to evolve, WTCA and its Members will face many challenges. For example, with the rise of Fintech we will see how businesses adopt and utilize modern technology to secure their leadership in their specific industries. We understand that the future in business will be through digital technology and online capacity, paired with offline centers.

Through our global network and association, we are equipped with the resources to face these challenges head on and secure our positions in the modern disruptive world of business transactions. This is the continued power of the WTCA network, and I am so proud to have been a part of this deep history of collaboration, innovation, and partnership.

Celebrating 50 Years Of The World Trade Centers Association

A Q&A with WTCA CEO Scott Ferguson


As part of the 50th Anniversary of the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA), the Headquarters office plans a number of exciting and engaging activations for Members, their communities, and the whole network alike. At the General Assembly in Querétaro, Mexico, attendees will learn about these activities first-hand, and following that event Members will be offered webinars and materials to help them participate in what should be a milestone moment for the WTCA. To kick off our coverage for this year-long campaign, we sat down with WTCA CEO Scott Ferguson to speak with him about some of the plans for the anniversary.

Hello Scott! As we go to publication for this issue Members will be gathering once again in Querétaro, Mexico for the 50th General Assembly. That’s 5-0! Before we begin with the anniversary, do you want to just touch on that event briefly for those Members who were unable to attend?

Of course! As everyone knows the General Assembly (GA) is our premiere annual event. It is held in a different global region each year, which not only showcases the city where it is being held, but also the cross-border reach of our association. Last year our hosts in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands did an exceptional job of pivoting the event, giving it a more external-facing element, and this year World Trade Center (WTC) Querétaro has certainly stepped up to the challenge! We expect to have a great turnout, a terrific program, and exceptional cultural events. So for everyone reading this on their way to Mexico—get ready for a great event.

Thanks for that. And speaking of the GA, there is a presentation on Monday to introduce how we are planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary over the next year. Can you tell us a bit about the thinking process that went into these plans?

For sure. Our intention is also to have a year-long campaign to accomplish a whole set of objectives. First and foremost, we want to celebrate this historic moment with our entire family, from new members who have just joined, to those who have been around for nearly all of that half of a century.

The second goal of our campaign is to give Members tools to use to engage their communities about the history of our association. We know that Members play an important role in their home cities, and we want to create ways in which they can reinforce that point with all of their key audiences. For that reason we have developed a number of member-driven activations that we will roll out over the next 12 months, which will include assets for members to use across multiple channels.

Finally, in late 2017 the Board of Directors approved a strategic plan with the vision to “become the world’s trusted global brand facilitating international business connections and trade,” and the tagline, “connecting the business world.” Taken together with our unique network makeup, and the history of the last 50 years, our theme for the Anniversary is “A Half Century of Global Trade Connectivity.”

Interesting! Can you give us a little sneak peek into some of those “activations?”

Absolutely. First of all, as with any milestone we want to capture this moment in time. It is really quite special to have made it to 50 years. For that reason we will be creating a commemorative video that will debut at the 2020 GA in Taipei. Member involvement is key here because the main pillar of the production is interviews with Members themselves. It will be a narrative piece that rests on real stories of being a part of our network. And moreover, once we have wrapped the main commemorative video, most if not all of these interviews will be edited into shorter clips that will be hosted on a microsite that will be very future-facing, providing a new tool for Members to use to promote their WTC and our network.

We will also be creating a new awards program for the association, using the anniversary as the occasion to launch the effort. We are calling it our “Champions Awards” and will launch in 2019, with the first awards being given at the GA in 2020. We have a number of categories, and the intent is to continue this at each successive GA. In addition to our new Accreditation Program—coming to full Membership in summer 2019—we felt we needed a way to recognize excellence around the network.

Finally, we are getting a bit “artsy,” as well. A bit later this year we will introduce a 50th Anniversary mural competition, and provide members with a creative brief to Members so they can solicit submissions from local artists. We will ask artists to create a piece that depicts the ways that trade fuels cultural exchange and understanding. These submissions will be on display in Taipei, and attendees will be asked to vote for their four favorite murals. The artists of the top four submissions—as selected by event participants—will be granted a small cash prize, and their creations will be used in WTCA marketing materials, and made available to Members for use thereafter. 

A mural competition? Some Members might be thinking, “what does art have to do with trade, or what we do on a daily basis?” Which is a good question! What was the thinking behind this? How would you answer that?

Sure—and I understand! Though I should add that many of our members are involved in artistic and cultural endeavors around the world, so it may not be so strange for some. One of our challenges is that trade and investment discussions are typically had by those whose professions require them to do so. Trade and investment are not, traditionally, a “kitchen table” topic. While recent global events have changed that a bit, they are complicated topics and do not always make their way into wider consciousness. However, as all of our members know, it absolutely should. Trade and investment are so vital to the health and opportunities of our communities. So, in an effort to help Members engage audiences they may not regularly have an opportunity to speak with, we wanted to give create a way of building a bridge to those wider communities.

Great. As you well know, many Members note that help building the brand locally to make the “WTC” or “World Trade Center” brand more universally understood, is a huge service they look for from headquarters. I wonder if you can touch a bit on how this will help accomplish that.

Sure. We want to use the occasion as reason to speak with press and other important external constituents so that we can leverage the anniversary to build our profile and brand. With the resources and staff we have at Headquarters, we cannot be everywhere around the globe at once. However, collectively with Members we can be! To accomplish this we will provide Members with a hefty toolkit to use in their own markets, and with their own local press. From media kits including pre-baked pitches and messaging, to pre-built social posts, hashtags, and video assets, and graphics that they can use across their own channels we hope that Members join us in this campaign. And of course, headquarters and our agency resources are always there to help with any questions or guidance—we want to make this as seamless and impactful as possible.

Great! So how do people find out more about all of this?

Like you mentioned before, we will have a presentation at the GA for those in attendance. Following the event we will schedule a number of webinars open to Members if they were unable to attend the GA, or if they want a refresher or a more intimate place to ask questions. And as always, we are available anytime. Just drop a note to

Alright—well I know you are getting ready for the big event, so are there any last words you want to offer?

Just briefly that the success of these activities depends almost entirely on the active engagement of Members—WE NEED YOU! As with any program our Members' participation is critical if we are to succeed. They are the most important ingredient to any recipe for success at the WTCA.

Great, Scott—thanks for your time!

Thank you.

WTCA Meridian™ April 2019 Issue

The April issue of the WTCA's official publication is out now!

Meridian April Issue Promo Image

Women in the Workplace — An Increasingly Formidable Presence


March 8, 2019, marks International Women’s Day, celebrated at a time when data shows that women are gaining traction in their work and entrepreneurial efforts, and increasing their overall contribution to the global economy. Women within the entrepreneurial community are becoming wealthier, and are re-investing their wealth and success in other women-led businesses. The e-commerce world is seeing more and more women-led businesses, and in some industries like pharmaceuticals and agriculture, women are dominating the economic landscape.

The McKinsey Global Institute suggests that women’s influence on trade could add $28 trillion to the global GDP by 2025. Let's look at some of the trends that add clout to that prediction.

Women Are Becoming Wealthier
Women entrepreneurs are becoming wealthier, partly because investors are increasingly recognizing their worth. Senior executives with The Boston Consulting Group find data suggesting that women-owned startups are a better investment than male-owned startups. While the authors do not give reasons why women-owned startups perform better, the data show that over a five-year period, women-owned startups generated 10 percent more revenue compared to male-owned startups. The data also shows that for every dollar in funding, women-owned startups generated 78 cents versus 31 cents generated by those owned by males.

First Round Capital is a US-based seed-stage venture firm for technology startups. The firm has found that over the past 10 years, investments they have made in companies with at least one female founder significantly outperformed those of all-male teams – by a whopping 63 percent. Of the company’s top 10 investments since their inception, three of the 10 have had at least one female founder.

In European countries like Iceland, Norway, France, and Germany, quotas for women on board seats have helped women increase their wealth and professional opportunity. Germany, the largest economy to impose a quota, mandates that 30 percent of supervisory board seats be filled by women. Iceland, Norway, and France each mandate 40 percent.

Women and Venture Funding
The willingness of venture capital firms to support female entrepreneurs is expected to have a profound effect. The BMO Wealth Institute looked at the progress of women over 50 years and found that they controlled 51 percent (or $14 trillion) of personal wealth in the United States in 2015. This amount is predicted to grow to $22 trillion by 2020.

As women become wealthier, they are more able to invest their earnings; moreover, they can invest in other women. Kay Koplovitz is the co-founder and chairman of Springboard Enterprises and the managing partner of Springboard Growth Capital, a US-based accelerator for women entrepreneurs. Koplovitz says that, as women gain wealth, “They are looking not only to make a return on investment but to do so in a way that is aligned with their values.” To that effect, they are increasingly investing in female-founded companies, according to Koplovitz.

Women are also increasingly becoming angel investors and targeting female-led ventures. In 2004, the US had 225,000 angel investors — 5 percent, or 11,000 of whom were women. In 2016, the last year this data was available, the US had 300,000 angel investors — numbering 78,000, 26 percent of these investors were women. And in 2004, 3 percent of the 48,000 companies that received angel funding were led by women. In 2016, 22 percent of all companies that received angel funding were led by women.

Women and E-commerce
A space that women are successfully leveraging is e-commerce. A new study by PayPal Canada and Barraza & Associates found that 50 percent of new e-commerce businesses launched in Canada since 2016 were female-led; that figure is up from just 34 percent 10 years ago.

E-commerce provides access to rapidly scaling global markets. By 2023, retail e-commerce sales in Asia-Pacific are projected to be greater than the rest of the world combined. While this is good news for all e-commerce businesses, it offers an especially strong opportunity for women-led businesses to capitalize on — close to 30 percent of women sell their products across borders while their male counterparts are less likely to do so. Case in point, only 23 percent of male-led ventures serve international markets.

Women Are Dominating Certain Industries
E-commerce is not the only space where women are making their presence known. Authors Samuel Stebbins and Thomas C. Frohlich report on recent changes in women’s participation in the workforce. According to the authors, in some occupations, the share of female workers has increased by over 20 percentage points since 2000.

The jobs cited by Stebbins and Frohlich include graders and sorters of agricultural products (with a 12 percent increase in the share of female workers), pharmacists (with a 15.5 percent increase), natural science managers (for a 22.5 percent increase in the share of female workers), and veterinarians (with a 25 percent increase in the share of women workers). In fact, the number of female veterinarians has actually doubled since 2000, reflecting a persistent trend whereby women are increasingly choosing science and engineering occupations. In total, the authors list 20 jobs that have become dominated by women, like fundraising managers, pharmacists, and compliance officers.

According to WBENC, who is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, there were 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the nation as of 2018. In 1972, there were only 402,000 women-owned businesses. Women now own four out of every 10 companies in the United States. While data for the United States is arguably more positive and reliable than data from less economically stable nations, the trends are indicative of a global movement to boost women's financial standing. The path to growing their economic global presence is a navigable one for women; it begins with increasing wealth and endures with reciprocal investment.



Gender parity is a vital issue for the global trade and logistics industry. Bringing more women into our workforce as entrepreneurs, professionals, and executives benefits communities around the world, and World Trade Centers can be powerful catalysts for change.

When I entered the trade and logistics industry in the early 1980s, I saw few women inspecting cargo, touring a warehouse, or giving a presentation in a boardroom. Since then, women have made great strides in many business sectors, but there is still a long way to go.

That is why the World Trade Center Miami (WTCM) has made it a priority to recognize and support women leaders who are making vital contributions to our economy every day. For the past 15 years, we have highlighted these “unsung heroes” through an annual International Women’s Day event that could easily be replicated by World Trade Centers around the globe.

Since 2004, we have recognized 87 inspirational women who have contributed to our region’s increased trade and investment. Our honorees have included leaders in the private and public sectors like Romaine Seguin, President, UPS Americas Region; Susan Harper, Consul General of Canada in Miami; Marilyn DeVoe, Vice President Miami Hub, American Airlines; and Diane J. Sabatino, Port Director, Miami Seaport, U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

For the 2019 International Women’s Day this March 8th, we will honor six women from the public and private sectors for their accomplishments and contributions to the largest sector of our region’s economy. Our annual luncheon will bring together more than 600 accomplished women and men in trade and logistics, and provides an excellent networking opportunity for our attendees.

This year’s event also marks the 110th anniversary of a women’s rights initiative that began in 1909 with the first National Women’s Day in the United States. One year later, 100 women from 17 countries gathered in Copenhagen and unanimously approved a proposal to establish an annual Women’s Day to honor the women’s rights movement and to support universal suffrage for women.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated by the United Nations (UN) since 1975, and the annual commemoration serves to focus attention on the rights of women around the world, and highlights women’s achievements.

This global event is an important reminder that reducing gender inequality and increasing workforce participation for women has a positive multiplier effect on the international economy. A McKinsey Global Institute report notes that advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025, and a Morgan Stanley study found that gender diversity in the workplace is profitable for both companies and investors.

Today, we recognize that gender-balanced leadership is crucial to the future of global prosperity – especially since skilled professionals and business executives are in short supply in many regions of the world. At the WTCM, we have actively sought out talented women to serve on our board of directors and today we are at a 50-50 balance. I would encourage other World Trade Centers to recruit more women for leadership positions and gain the benefits of fresh ideas and perspectives.

Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on enhancing career and professional opportunities for women – not just on International Women’s Day, but throughout the year. For example, our Americas Food & Beverage Show has included a pavilion for women entrepreneurs that was provided free of charge.

Having a strong contingent of women professionals has also strengthened our ability to advocate for global trade on the local, state, and national levels. Our “1,000 Women Strong Trade Initiative” is an important step in the right direction.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in March, I hope that other World Trade Centers will consider programs to support and advance women in the international trade arena, if they do not already have these in place. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to expand our trade and logistics capabilities, while opening new doors for women around the world.

Red the full March issue of WTCA Meridian by clicking here.