Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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Making It Easier to Clear Customs in Latin America

April 10, 2014

Diana Alvarez recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

More than 40 percent of current U.S. exports go to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Both its geographic proximity and the presence of 11 free trade agreements in the region make these markets attractive for U.S. businesses.

As the U.S. government continues to support businesses expanding in Latin America through the Look South Initiative, one key aspect being addressed is working through potential barriers to trade.

Issues like long customs-clearance times, inconsistent interpretation of customs regulations, and subjectivity of customs inspectors can add to the time and cost of the exporting process. These costs can especially affect small business exporters.

To address these problems, the International Trade Administration is working alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection, governments across Latin America, and other public and private sector partners on the Customs Modernization and Border Management Reform Program.

This program brings business and government together to discuss the challenges faced at the border and to develop solutions that will make clearing customs easier, faster, and more efficient.

The program began in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras and has already helped create a simpler and more efficient border-crossing process:

  • Honduras extended its operating hours at many border posts and harmonized them across the many different border agencies.
  • El Salvador eliminated several administrative requirements for express shipments, saving companies time and money.
  • Costa Rica recently launched its one-stop web portal that will allow companies and government agencies to submit and review all customs-related documents in one place.

As part of a second phase of the program, training workshops and dialogues were held in Peru and the Dominican Republic in March, with events in Guatemala and Uruguay scheduled to take place soon.

We’re excited to see more businesses expand to Latin America under the Look South Initiative, and we look forward to being a part of a smoother trade process under the Customs Modernization and Border Management program.

If you’re ready to increase your business’s presence in Latin America, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center or visit export.gov/looksouth.

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Exports Stimulate Sales of a Vitamin Distributor

April 9, 2014

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center. 

When you’re exporting vitamins, you’re supporting healthy customers as well as a healthy bottom line for your business.

You’re also working within a framework of laws that regulate manufacturing quality, sanitation, ingredients, labelling and other considerations. These laws are necessary to protect consumers, but can sometimes be overwhelming as they change from market to market.

For vitamin-producer Transfer Point and owner Marilyn Becker, support from the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service has helped the company navigate regulations for new markets, leading to successes in Europe and Asia. Now the company is looking to expand in Latin America, where the United States has 11 free trade agreements.

She shared her story with Doug Barry, a trade specialist with ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: Tell us about your company and where it is today.

Becker: Transfer Point was established to distribute dietary supplements for the immune system, and we only distribute what is best in its class and a very quality product. We started by accident, or by email communication, with the very small country of Croatia, and then started to intentionally seek sales.

Barry: What countries are you in today?

Becker: Several in the EU: Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and now of course, very recently Croatia. And then a few in Asia: Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and very recently South Korea.

Barry: How did the International Trade Administration help you succeed in China?

Becker: The U.S. Commercial Service has helped us by guiding us regarding many regulations for the labeling, for packaging, for contents. They helped us do the translation of the label, they provided the information of what was required to be on the label, and they did background checks on the Chinese company that we were dealing with–to verify that we were with a legitimate entity.

Barry: So your cares and concerns about exporting seemed to have fallen away one by one.

Becker: This is true! I can’t say that we have always been successful in what we’ve tried to do. There are some countries we have not yet succeeded in. But boy, we’ve gotten every bit of assistance we could have. South Korea came here to Columbia, South Carolina to meet us and to get to know us better. We had three Commercial Service representatives join us at that meeting and make a presentation on our behalf, which tremendously helps credibility. I could give example after example of the support that we received from the U.S. government.

Barry: Has exporting helped your bottom line?

Becker: Oh, certainly. It’s a third of our sales. And it provides a stable, steady income. When the state’s economy crashed in 2008, we didn’t feel it. Our sales went up, particularly in the EU. We did just fine during that whole period. And that was because of the international market.

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Six Ways to Make Your Next Trade Show Count

April 1, 2014

Ken Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Orlando.

Our team can help you maximize export opportunities at trade shows.

Our team can help you maximize export opportunities at trade shows.

You’re walking the floor at a major trade show and, glancing to your right, you see two people seated deep in their booth checking e-mails on their phones. This closed off demeanor wastes two precious resources their company invested on this show, time and money.

To get the best possible return on investment from your next trade show, here are six simple suggestions that don’t cost much money and will attract traffic to just about any booth:

  1. Stand. Believe it or not, you seem more open to engagement if you’re standing, smiling, and looking at people as they pass.  By contrast, people are reluctant to distract you when you appear busy by sitting.
  2. Stage a conversation.  If there are two of you in your booth, make it appear that one of you is learning about your company from the other.  Believe it or not, people will look at something if someone else is looking; and for no better reason than that.  This works less effectively if you’re wearing clothing that brands you as working for the same company or if you’re exhibiting alone.
  3. Never leave your booth unattended.  If you need to go to lunch or the bathroom, unless you’re alone, there should always be someone in your booth.
  4. Raffles are better than hand-outs.  People will take candy or pens without actually engaging with you.  You can’t make connections and build a database if you don’t know who’s visiting your booth.  You’ll get a lot more traffic to your booth if you raffle something of value – maybe something like a tablet – than you would otherwise. You’ll also be “buying” a contact list for the cost of the item that you’re raffling.  For your raffle, it’s probably better to scan badges than to collect business cards because, to have their badges scanned, visitors to your booth will have to engage you.  Also, for a raffle to work, people need to know about it, so advertise at your booth, conduct targeted mailings/e-mailings, and advertise in the show guide and directory.
  5. Conduct targeted outreach BEFORE the show.   If you have a customer list, mail/e-mail your customers to remind them of your presence at the show and your booth number.  Similarly, you can purchase contact lists (from the U.S. Embassy, from private vendors) and send marketing collateral with your booth number to qualified potential buyers before the show.  And, don’t forget to mention your raffle!
  6. Advertise in the Export Interest Directory.  Not every show participates in the International Buyer Program; however, for those that do, you can arrange one-on-one meetings with the leaders of foreign buyer delegations.  If there’s a match to one of their delegates’ needs, they’ll bring their delegate to your booth to meet you.  Similarly, foreign buyers use the Export Interest Directory to find potential suppliers.  The easiest way to identify International Buyer Program shows is to contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

Remember, trade shows are an investment of both money and time. Don’t waste either. Use these six tips to maximize your investment, and be sure to call your local Export Assistance Center to learn more about how to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

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Unraveling Global Aerospace Safety Regulations

March 12, 2014

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Fred Elliot is a Trade Specialist with the Aerospace Team at the International Trade Administration

Have you ever wondered what a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement is and how it can help speed the shipment of U.S. civil aircraft parts to customers overseas? What are “special requirements” other countries have on U.S. exports of civil aircraft parts and how can U.S. suppliers learn about them? What is an “export certificate of airworthiness” and when are U.S. aerospace exporters required to use it? If your response is: “The FAA requires it.”, then you share a common misconception that can be solved through lessons from the International Trade Administration.

These and other questions will be addressed during the Practical Tips for Suppliers of Civil Aircraft and Aircraft Parts to Increase Exports seminar on March 20. The program will help current and future U.S. exporters understand the requirements of the FAA and aeronautical authorities overseas in relation to U.S. civil aerospace exports. James Showman, FAA’s International Policy Branch manager, will be the featured speaker. Other speakers include ITA trade specialists who will be available to meet with individual seminar participants in person or by phone.

This event is being organized in cooperation with the Ohio Aerospace Institute, an ITA partner through the Market Development Cooperator Program. Additional details, including the program agenda and registration application, are available through the Ohio Aerospace Institute
.

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Exploring Top Markets for Renewable Energy Exporters

March 12, 2014

Cora Dickson and Ryan Mulholland are Renewable Energy Analysts in ITA’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries.

Join the ITA Renewable Energy team on Twitter to ask questions and learn more about the report. Ask questions using #REtopmarkets.

Join the ITA Renewable Energy team on Twitter to ask questions and learn more about the report. Ask questions using #REtopmarkets.

As demand for clean energy grows throughout the world, how does a renewable energy company develop its export strategy?

Renewable energy is a sector that is notoriously difficult to predict.  The rapidly changing technology and policy environment can make it challenging for businesses to explore new markets and create an export strategy.

Here at ITA, we are committed to supporting renewable energy exporters by providing the most timely, accurate, and valuable information necessary to compete effectively in international markets. We put together a new report – the 2014 Renewable Energy Top Markets for U.S. Exports Report – to help exporters determine which markets may yield the most near-term renewable energy opportunities.

Exporters can find information on potential U.S. exports of goods related to renewable energy by both market and sector through 2015. Information is included for the wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, ethanol, and wood pellet (biomass) sectors. Please note that the analysis does not describe investment opportunities or even the fastest growing markets – instead, it shows where ITA believes most U.S. renewable energy exports will go in the near-term.

To undertake the analysis, we gathered data on 75 markets, including:

  • Projected capacity installations by market and by subsector;
  • The projected capital cost of a market’s projected capacity growth;
  • Each market’s projected consumption of ethanol and biomass pellets;
  • Expected import market size based on historical imports, manufacturing capacity, etc.; and
  • Projected U.S. market share in each market.

The report highlights some interesting facts – some expected and others quite informative – to exporters looking to develop an effective renewable energy export strategy:

  • Ten markets will account for nearly three-fourths of U.S. renewable energy exports over the next two years;
  • The wind sector will overtake the solar sector as the leading U.S. exporter of renewable energy technologies during that time period; and
  • Renewable energy markets in Latin America generally support a greater market share for U.S. exporters than elsewhere around the world, but often are smaller and less developed.

Company-specific priorities vary, so we encourage exporters to visit their nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) to further develop or refine their export strategy.  Our USEACs can also put exporters in touch with ITA’s Foreign Commercial Service staff at 72 different embassies and consulates around the world for the most up-to-date and relevant market information.

For more information on exporting renewable energy, we recommend browsing the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency exporters portal, and sign up for the monthly e-newsletter, both of which contain a myriad of resources from ITA and across the federal government.

Please also join us on March 25 at 2 p.m. for a Twitter Town Hall (#REtopmarkets).  We’ll highlight key findings and answer questions about the Top Markets report. We are always looking to improve our programs and services, so we would also like to hear your ideas or suggestions on how to make the next Top Markets report more useful and effective. We look forward to chatting with you!

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Alabama Celebrates Export Success

March 6, 2014
Made In Alabama logo

ITA is proud to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce to support state exporters.

Robert Stackpole is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Yesterday was a big day for the State of Alabama, one that recognized a great year for state businesses and exporters.

At a ceremony at the State Capitol, Gov. Robert Bentley recognized eight Alabama companies that are setting a very high standard for Alabama companies that are competing – and succeeding – in the global marketplace. These businesses are exporting everything from audio/video equipment to machinery that helps install decorative lighting.

These exporters prove every day that Made in Alabama products are some of the most innovative, highest quality products in the world. They’re showing that exporting is possible for businesses of any size.

Engaging in the global marketplace is an excellent way for your company to increase sales, find more customers, and protect against an economic downturn.

If your business is ready to start finding and competing in new markets, the Export Alabama Alliance is here to support! Our team at the Birmingham Export Assistance Center is proud to be a part of that Alliance and to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce.

We are honored to have helped all eight of the businesses recognized yesterday to increase their exports, and we are ready, willing, and able to support your business going global.

You can learn more about yesterday’s celebration and the companies that were recognized on the Alabama Department of Commerce website.

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Smoothing Over Connections for Your Cosmetics Business: Cosmoprof Trade Show

February 21, 2014

Elisa Martucci and Tony Michalski are Commercial Specialists focusing on the European cosmetics market.

Are you looking to increase sales for your cosmetics business? The U.S. cosmetics industry is increasingly finding new customers overseas, achieving $10 billion in exports in 2013. That’s a 10 percent increase from 2012.

We expect companies to continue finding success overseas — especially in the European markets.

One way you can find and capitalize on opportunities in the cosmetics industry is by joining us at Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna, Italy this April.

Our Commercial Service specialists will be at the show to help you take full advantage – finding the best possible business opportunities and qualified potential partners. We can give you information about current market situations, issues important to your business, and key opportunities for your business around the world.

With our help, you can put every minute of time spent at the event to the best possible use.

We want to help you make the best of your business! You can register for the Cosmoprof Worldwide trade show,and be sure to let us help you get the full makeover for your business!

If you have any questions about Cosmoprof or support from the Commercial Service, please feel free to contact one of us, Elisa Martucci or Tony Michalski. Or you can always contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

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ITA Helps Business Look South with Market Research

February 20, 2014

Laura Ebert is the Chile Desk Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

Before entering a new market, your business needs to be prepared. There are a number of market specific data you should understand to get an idea of your product’s potential success, including:

  • market size;
  • sophistication;
  • growth trends;
  • distribution channels; and,
  • regulatory considerations.

The problem is that market research can be time consuming and data on foreign markets can be confusing or difficult to find.

That’s where the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service comes in!

Our Commercial Service offers a number of resources to assist you and your business with conducting market research and due diligence in your target foreign market.

Our Market Research Library contains more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, written by our specialists working on the ground in each market.

Here you will also find the Country Commercial Guides, in-depth “how to do business” guides that provide a comprehensive look at the commercial environment in more than 80 overseas markets. The guides also highlight the top “best prospect” markets in each country for U.S. exporters.

As we focus on helping U.S. companies do business with our 11 free trade agreement partners in Latin America through the Look South initiative, we’ve now taken our Country Commercial Guides and made them easier to use than ever.

Want to know which Look South countries are top prospects for your product? Find out at a glance by visiting the Look South Best Prospect Sectors page and clicking on your industry. You’ll be able to see the list of most promising markets and download market snapshots for each country.

Already planning to target a specific country? Visit our Look South Countries page and choose your country from the list at the bottom of the page. Look for your industry among the best prospect sectors and download the market snapshot in just one click!

If you don’t see your industry or target market listed, don’t panic! There is very likely an opportunity for your product in more than one Look South country. Just contact your local Export Assistance Center for further information.

Other free resources include access to U.S. trade data and a series of events, webinars, and teleconferences that give you a chance to learn about new markets first hand or with on-the-ground experts. Check out the upcoming trade events and educational opportunities for Look South here.

In addition to these free public resources, your company can request more in-depth, tailored market research (for a fee) to answer your particular questions regarding the market for your product and services. We can also provide due diligence reports on potential overseas business partners (also for a fee) to investigate the capabilities, legitimacy, and financial strength of a potential overseas business partner.

Contact your local commercial service office to find out more about these services.

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Made in Rural America: Helping Appalachian Business Sell to the World

February 18, 2014

This post originally appeared on the White House blog.

Earl F. Gohl is the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government established by an act of Congress in 1965.

Forty-two percent of the Appalachian Region’s population lives in rural areas. President Obama’s Made in Rural America export and investment initiative presents a strategic opportunity to expand the region’s exporting sector, grow jobs, and ensure long-term sustainable growth. It is one more example of how the White House Rural Council works to provide economic opportunity in rural America.

Over and over, my travels throughout the region have underscored the role that expanded export markets can have in creating jobs and strengthening local economies. Yet many small businesses in Appalachia view entering the export market as a daunting challenge, something they haven’t really focused on before. The President’s proposal is specially designed to help these rural companies get in the export game by connecting them to export information and assistance. These additional resources will strengthen the capacity of Appalachian business to compete and succeed in the global economy of the 21st century.

Rural enterprises from across Appalachia have a history of demonstrating their competitive success in capturing new export opportunities. In September 2013, an Appalachia USA delegation of 18 home furnishing and wood product enterprises generated over $50 million in new export sales at the FMC international trade show in Shanghai, China. One month earlier, a 22-member mining equipment, technology, and service delegation achieved similar export success from their Appalachia USA pavilion at the Asia-Pacific International Mining Exhibition in Sydney, Australia.

First-time export ventures are a challenge but they offer the potential of significantly expanded markets. At the U.S. Commercial Service 2013 Trade Winds Business Forum in Seoul, South Korea, Appalachia USA delegates from a small manufacturing enterprise in Sistersville, West Virginia seized the opportunity to make their first sales into the global market. It is small manufacturers like this who will have greater opportunities under the President’s plan.

By creating a comprehensive strategy connecting federal resources with rural leaders and businesses to expand exports, the Made in Rural America initiative will bring new and welcome energy to Appalachia’s growing export sector. The President’s initiative will help increase the number of small manufacturers who can succeed, and it will help Appalachian businesses sell to the world.

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Gold Key Matchmaking Service helps Indiana firm to “Look South”

February 7, 2014

Conner Moore recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

Even though the Look South initiative is just getting started companies like Indiana-based Escalade Sports are already looking south by using Mexico as a stepping stone to other Latin American markets. Escalade is an internationally known manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods brands. Back in 2005, National Account and International Sales Manager Marla Fredrich targeted sales to Mexico as a springboard to Latin America.

After teaming up with Dusan Marinkovic, a trade specialist with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service (CS) in Indiana, Escalade benefitted from export counseling and the CS Gold Key Matchmaking Service.

This service helps U.S. companies find potential overseas business opportunities by arranging business meetings with pre-screened contacts representatives, distributors, professional associations, government contacts, and/or licensing or joint venture partners.

Through the Gold Key, Fredrich traveled to Mexico and met with pre-screened prospective business partners arranged by CS trade professionals at the U.S. Embassy.

As a result of ongoing CS assistance, Escalade made its first sale to Mexico and continues to increase its sales to the country. Having established a foothold in Mexico, Escalade has since looked south and started exporting to other parts of Latin America, including Colombia and the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement countries of El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

Fredrich is upbeat about the region, and sees a lot more opportunity.

“We are now reaping the fruits of our hard work in making new sales to world markets, and Latin America has become a key focus of our international business strategy,” she says. “There’s no doubt that learning the ins and outs of selling to Mexico and working with the Commercial Service gave us more confidence in expanding our sales to other parts of Latin America.”

Fredrich also said that Escalade’s involvement in exporting and international diversification has enabled it to weather the changes in the global economy, and to grow and become more internationally competitive. As a result, the company has been able to sustain and support many new jobs in the United States.

Whatever and wherever your business is, the International Trade Administration can help any company that is ready to start exporting, expand to new markets, and begin to “Look South.”

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