Several states - looking for a greater edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace - have incorporated arts and cultural exchanges in their international trade and business development approaches. This aspect of state-level diplomacy undergirds and complements more traditional trade promotion efforts that focus on generating immediate exports. One state official describes these activities as building a network of personal ties, or "a human infrastructure," that is an indispensable tool for expanding trade. Relationships of understanding, respect and trust with other nations will not alone guarantee expanded trade development, but they can form an effective foundation upon which trade partnerships rest.

This Issue Brief explores successful approaches some states have used to incorporating arts and culture into international trade development, including:

  • initiating cultural exchanges with foreign countries;
  • developing "sister state" relationships;
  • including cultural leaders on trade missions;
  • making grants to communities and educational institutions that are initiating contact abroad; and
  • creating state-level commissions and signing bilateral agreements that promote cultural and business affairs.

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