Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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Richmond Export Assistance Center and Partners Bring ExporTech to Norfolk, Virginia

February 11, 2016

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

This is a guest blog by Sandra Choi, Development Analyst for foreign investment and international research at the City of Norfolk Department of Development

Last month, five companies from Norfolk, Virginia and surrounding municipalities completed ExporTech, a national export technical assistance program that helps local manufacturers develop and implement an international strategy to boost export sales. The program is jointly offered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the U.S. Export Assistance Centers of the United States Department of Commerce. ExporTech applies a structured export strategy development process that assists companies in accelerating their growth.

ExportTech

Since 2007, 141 ExporTech programs have been delivered in 31 states with more than 745 participating companies.

 

Over the course of 12 weeks, senior executives from each company participated in a series of customized workshops to develop a written export plan. At the final session, their export strategies were vetted by a panel of trade professionals, including trade specialists from the International Trade Administration. After completing the program, companies will begin the implementation of their strategy alongside a robust network of partner organizations that contributed to the successful conclusion of the Commonwealth’s first ExporTech program.

Virginia’s first class of ExporTech graduates includes technology manufacturers, Descal-A-Matic, Grandwatt Electric, Mission Mobility, Netarus and Paramount Sleep. The participating companies represented the diverse manufacturing community of Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region. They ranged from start-up firms like Netarus, a manufacturer of wireless video sensor technology, to Paramount Sleep, a third generation family-owned luxury mattress manufacturer with deep roots in Norfolk. The class also included companies such as Descal-A-Matic, a green non-chemical water treatment technology company, and Grandwatt Electric, a portable light tower and diesel & gas powered generator manufacturer. Both companies have a history of international sales but wanted to develop a refined targeted plan for export growth. As a defense contractor, Mission:Mobility, a manufacturer of ‘at the edge of the network’ mobile communications equipment, wanted to target new markets as part of their strategy to diversify revenue streams.

Effectively aligning and coordinating the individual programs of federal and local organizations within the Commonwealth was crucial to the success of this pilot program in Norfolk. Through the integration of all the export-related services offered by the partner organizations and functioning as a single team, ExporTech was able to provide a holistic export roadmap for the participating companies. The U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Richmond was a key partner to the City of Norfolk and GENEDGE Alliance, in the development and implementation of this program. The USEAC counseled companies on the fundamentals of exporting and worked with them to develop their plans. Through its global network, the Richmond USEAC is currently working to connect each company to potential overseas partners through the International Trade Administration’s Gold Key Service and other on-the-ground support in target markets. Other ExporTech partner organizations include Virginia Small Business Development Council, Old Dominion University and the Port of Virginia. Additional sponsorship was provided by FedEx Corporation and Fulton Bank.

Norfolk is setting a foundation to build a trade ecosystem that allows local firms to participate in an export-intensive economy. Central to this new economic development model is to introduce new resources that support the growth and expansion of small- and medium-sized firms. In addition to organizing technical assistance programs such as ExporTech, Norfolk introduced another key resource for exporting firms: access to capital. The Global Initiatives Fund, one of four new NorfolkFirst investment programs, will provide patient flexible capital for businesses that are looking to begin or expand their export activities. Both manufacturers and service exporters are eligible for the Global Initiatives Fund. Initially capitalized at $250,000, local firms can access the loan fund to finance a broad range of activities; participate in trade missions, connect with prospective buyers or support working capital needs. The Global Initiatives Fund is the first of its kind in Virginia and the United States. No other municipality offers direct access to capital for its trade community.

As it continues to assist the first ExporTech cohort with the implementation of their plans, the network of ExporTech organizational partners will kick off regional recruitment efforts for the second class of Virginia’s ExporTech participants in March. With trade growth becoming an important cornerstone of economic development strategies for metropolitan economies across the nation, programs like ExporTech play a crucial role in bridging the resources of the private-public sector and different levels of government to assist local companies seeking export assistance.

Since 2007, 141 ExporTech programs have been delivered in 31 states with more than 745 participating companies. Based on its recent success in Norfolk, companies in this area will continue to have the opportunity to benefit from this program.

 

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The Great Mall of China

November 30, 2015

This is a guest blog by Doug Barry PhD, who until recently was a Senior International Trade Specialist with ITA’s Office of Communications and Digital Initiatives  

Despite slowing growth and a welter of government regulations, there are still good opportunities to be had in the China market, says the 2015 edition of the China Country Commercial Guide (CCG). Published by the U.S. Commercial Service in China, the CCG, now available online in bite-size nuggets, points out that while many industries remain closed to foreign participants, you’re on much more enticing ground if you’re selling medical equipment, health supplements, baby and environmental products and services, and using e-commerce to avoid most taxes and certifications to reach Chinese consumers directly.

E-commerce is rapidly increasing in China, and in May 2015 accounted for around 10.6% of all retail sales. There are over 632 million Internet users in China, of whom 47% are online shoppers. That’s slightly less than the entire population of the United States.

“The Chinese market remains strong, the retail sector underdeveloped, and logistics surprisingly improved,” says Joshua Halpern, a Commercial Officer with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. “That combination, along with an expanding middle class, government policies that drive domestic consumption, especially in the 2nd and 3rd-tier cities and a degradation of trust for domestic-made products presents U.S. exporters with unprecedented opportunities across a comparatively streamlined and low-cost export channel.”
E-commerce sales in China totaled $449 billion in 2014, up 49.3% from $300.7 billion in 2013, according to the Chinese government’s National Bureau of Statistics (CNBS). In comparison, web sales in the U.S. totaled almost $305 billion in 2014, up 15.4% from 2013, according to Department of Commerce estimates (February 2015). China’s  e-commerce market is growing more than three times faster than that of the United States. Although the official average income of the Chinese online shopper is much less than their American counterparts, personal income of the Chinese middle class grew by 10% (CNBS). The Chinese research firm iResearch forecasts that China’s e-Commerce market will grow at a 27% annual rate over the next four years.

Feet on the ground, or mail it in

U.S. Companies wanting to sell products via Chinese e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba and its affiliates Tao Bao, Tmall and Tmall International, can choose a more traditional approach by establishing a physical presence in China, or use cross-border e-commerce to sell the products directly from abroad. A presence in China can be a subsidiary company, a JV, a wholly-owned entity or a local distributor/agent. The CCG contains information on these different options for establishing a presence in China and the Department of Commerce offices across China can help you identify the right option for your business.

Within the massive growth of e-commerce in China is an approach called “bonded online shopping,” the cross border element of online shopping via government-approved websites that enables foreign brands to sell products overseas. In cross-border e-commerce, goods imported by means of bonded import will be exempt from certain import duties, consumption tax and value-added tax, and are only levied with Personal Postal Articles Tax. Cross-border e-Commerce is in a trial stage, and is likely to experience significant changes as regulations are put in place.

Also, since potential Chinese distributors comb through popular e-commerce marketplaces in search of new products, your product’s presence could lead to orders for containers, rather than oneseys and twoseys (small quantities), which still could be considerable given China’s population of 1.3 billion.

The latest CCG also contains information on the U.S. Government’s export assistance resources in China, which are most significant in the world. Good thing, too, because being successful at e-commerce in China often requires more than a passive listing or virtual store on one or more marketplaces.

Another trend to keep an eye out for is what Commercial Officer Joshua Halpern calls “C-commerce”, which is the shift in consumer behavior away from static one-directional e-commerce platform shopping toward content-rich sites and social media groups that discuss and recommend products and lifestyle activities they are passionate about. C-commerce allows Chinese consumers to trust recommendations from passionate friends in their “inner circle”. U.S. Commercial Services offices in China can advise you on developing a proper e-commerce strategy, including local service providers who can help market your product on China social media.

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Export Assistance Center Director Honored for Helping Utah Firms Succeed Internationally

October 7, 2015

Thomas McGinty is the International Trade Administration’s National Director for U.S. Operations.

What does the director of the Salt Lake City U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) have in common with a former Utah governor and a former director general of the U.S. Commercial Service? They are all recipients of the annual Utah International Person of the Year Award.

Dave Fiscus accepts award

Director of the Salt Lake City U.S. Export Assistance Center, Dave Fiscus (2nd from right) accepts the Utah Person of the Year Award

I was thrilled to learn that Dave Fiscus, director of our Salt Lake City USEAC, recently received the 2015 Person of the Year Award for going beyond the call of duty to promote trade and help Utah companies succeed in international markets. The award was presented to Dave by KeyBank and the World Trade Association of Utah. This is a tremendous honor and professional achievement for him and the entire Commercial Service family. We challenge our employees to ‘Dare to Be Great’ in creating opportunities for U.S. businesses and promoting exports. I congratulate him for his outstanding work in Utah.

Terry Grant, president of KeyBank in Utah and member of the nominating committee, commended Dave for his deep engagement in the Utah business community, particularly his outreach to rural companies and the support he provides to state and World Trade Association events. This year, the governor led five trade missions and Dave played a major role in planning and executing each of them. Mr. Grant attended several of the missions and noted that the Gold Key meetings organized by Dave were extremely valuable in connecting Utah exporters with prospective overseas clients and partners.

Dave was also instrumental in recruiting 130 foreign buyers for the first time ever to attend this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show in Salt Lake City—100 more foreign buyers than the show organizer expected.

Director Fiscus in Salt Lake City and our international trade specialists in more than 100 other domestic Export Assistance Centers are helping U.S. firms succeed internationally by providing a range of services including:

  • Counseling on export mechanics and the development of an export strategy;
  • Market intelligence on best export prospects, market conditions, legal and cultural issues and more;
  • Matchmaking services to identify qualified foreign distributors and arrange meetings with these pre-screened contacts in the target market; and
  • Background reports on potential distributors, agents and partners.

To find an Export Assistance Center near you, visit Export.gov.

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Brazil’s Energy Sectors Seek U.S. Exporters

July 30, 2015

Commercial Officer Tom Hanson just completed his three-year tour at the U.S. Commercial Service in São Paulo.

Brazil’s enormous offshore oil and gas finds, called the pre-salt fields, are located 200 miles off its southern coast and lie approximately 7,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. As these logistically and technologically challenging discoveries are explored, substantial business opportunities arise for U.S. suppliers of oil and gas equipment and services.

Although Brazil’s largest oil player, Petrobras, has yet to publish its revised five-year investment plan for the 2015-2019 period, industry sources estimate that it may range between US$130 billion to US$ 140 billion.  The exploration and production subsector should take 80% of the total planned investment. However, due to financial constraints brought about by investigations surrounding budget improprieties, Petrobras is likely to reduce its investment plan substantially, and may sell off some of its assets to offset its cash flow issues.

As Petrobras has not yet issued its 2015-2019 equipment and services demand forecast, based on its previous Business Plan as of February 2014, U.S. providers of supplies and operating systems for platforms and tankers and manufacturers of workboats and transport vessels would stand a great chance of winning new business. Despite the current crisis involving Petrobras and its main turnkey contractors, Petrobras’ expansion plans may represent one of the world’s largest business opportunities in the oil and gas sector until at least 2020. Commercial Service (CS) Brazil counsels U.S. exporters who are not already established in Brazil to partner with a local firm that is registered as a supplier to Petrobras – a prerequisite – rather than attempting to register directly.

Meanwhile, CS Brazil is engaged in the dynamic Renewable Energy sector. Brazil generates nearly 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources – hydro, wind, solar, bio-mass, waste-to-energy – driven by both its immense renewable energy resource potential and rising energy demand. In fact, renewable energy capacity in Brazil is registering an average annual expansion of 12 percent, with special emphasis on wind energy, biomass from sugarcane, and small hydropower plants.

To date, most U.S. exports have been in the form of services and high value-added products that are not available domestically. However, exports to Brazil are hindered by significant import tariff barriers. Brazil imposes a 14 percent tariff on wind turbines, component parts for the wind industry, and hydropower turbines; and a 12 percent tariff on imported solar equipment, both PV and thermal.

CS Brazil can assist U.S. exporters navigate the complex path of market entry to find their niche markets and identify partners in these and other industry segments. Other, indirect costs of doing business in Brazil (referred to as “Custo Brasil) are often related to distribution, government procedures, employee benefits, environmental laws, and a complex tax structure.

Brazil has a large and diversified economy that offers U.S. companies many opportunities to partner and to export their goods and services, and U.S. exports are increasing rapidly. For more information about export opportunities in these energy sectors, please review the Country Commercial Guide and Top Market reports.

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New Top Markets Series Provides Data and Analysis to Help U.S. Exporters Compare Opportunities Across Borders

July 14, 2015

Marcus Jadotte is the International Trade Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry & Analysis.

Top Markets Series: A Market Assessment Tool for U.S. ExportersLast year, the United States exported $2.34 trillion worth of goods and services—an all-time record. Exports from the United States in 2014 equaled the entire gross domestic product of Brazil and exceeded all commercial output in India, Italy, or Mexico. What is more, exports are an increasingly important aspect of the U.S. economy. As the significance of exporting grows, the Obama administration and the Department of Commerce is committed to providing the data and analytics U.S. companies need to compete effectively in foreign markets.

To meet this objective, the International Trade Administration (ITA) is leading the NEI Next Initiative, a customer service-driven strategy that is delivering improved information to American businesses to help them win when competing abroad. Of course, winning in foreign markets is often a case of investing resources as strategically as possible – i.e., picking which market to introduce a new product; or choosing whether to expand in one market or focus on opportunities elsewhere. That is why we are proud to release a new product line today: ITA’s Top Markets Series.

The Top Markets Series is a collection of 19 sector-specific reports that are designed to help U.S. exporters compare markets across borders, using market intelligence and data to inform decision-making. From aircraft parts to civil nuclear energy, green buildings and cloud computing, to media and entertainment, each Top Markets Report includes commentary on opportunities, trends, and challenges facing U.S. exporters in the largest potential markets. The reports combine the unique expertise of ITA’s sector leads in Industry & Analysis with economic data and the views of our staff stationed around the world.  Exporters can access full reports or view individual sections; collectively, the series includes more than 200 pieces of individually-viewable market intelligence.

In addition to U.S. businesses, Top Markets Reports are a tool that federal agencies are using to prioritize export promotion activities and trade policy initiatives. Our efforts will make all of us more efficient, as we target limited resources at those markets and sectors most likely to benefit from U.S. government support. For example, within ITA, we are working to coordinate our trade missions, trade fairs, and International Buyers Program recruitment with the strategic opportunities identified in the Top Markets series.

We anticipate updating ITA’s Top Markets rankings on an ongoing basis and will release new reports annually. Over the next several months, we look forward to hearing feedback from exporters and will incorporate suggestions into next year’s versions of the Top Markets Reports.

To download a full report or view individual case studies within each report, visit http://www.trade.gov/topmarkets.

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Startup Global Seminar Pilot Visits Nashville

July 13, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

This is a guest blog by Clark Buckner, a full time podcaster hosting and producing The Nashville Entrepreneurship Story Podcast.

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center recently hosted the nation’s second Startup Global Seminar. Each seminar is driven by local organizers and focuses on the unique needs of the city’s entrepreneurs. The goal is to encourage startups to export internationally and make the process simple and accessible. Josh Mandell, Senior Advisor for Innovation and Competitiveness at the United States Department of Commerce, refers to startups as the “lifeblood of our economy,” yet many do not initially consider going global or are confused by the process. Startup Global began as the Department of Commerce’s solution to making government resources available to startups and entrepreneurs.

A big way companies can begin to export is by connecting with the resources established locally and federally through the Department of Commerce. Pat Kirwan, Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat, said, “When companies run into problems, they tend to talk to either a banker, an accountant, a lawyer, or their economic development organization that they’ve been dealing with. In this case, it would be the Nashville Entrepreneurship Center, right? So that’s their first stop, but the fact that those folks are plugged into this wider community of the state, and federal resources, all of the sudden the company has access to an enormous amount of resource help…companies have access to diplomats in over 70 countries.”

Michael Ralsky, President of GlobalGR, discussed how he assisted a motor vehicle client in finding a business partner in Vietnam. The Department of Commerce contacted Vietnam’s U.S. Embassy, which conducted a search that yielded 11 potential business partners. That client is now established in Vietnam and has sold more than 500 motor vehicles as a result. He says the best way for new businesses to move into exports is to “call up [the local export assistance center] office, tell them what country you’re interested in exporting, and they will then turn around and provide you with a menu of services that they can help you with, to help you get exporting.”

As for the startups themselves, the key to innovation, according to David Green, the “1st Enterprise Entrepreneur” at Schneider Electric, is to train employees “from the day they come in the building” in the entrepreneurial mindset. An innovative team is essential to the success of his project, Nashville-based Connected Home. This focus on innovation, David says, is key to the survival and adaptation of modern day businesses. When asked if he can train innovation, he says, “it’s happened – right here in these very walls.”

In the modern age of global digital commerce, access to international markets is key to the success of a growing business. To learn more about resources available, contact one of 107 local export assistance centers around the country or visit us on the web.

Listen to the interviews from Nashville Startup Global Seminar

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ASEAN Information is Now Easier to Find on Export.gov

June 30, 2015

Andrew Edlefsen is the Director of the Las Vegas U.S. Export Assistance Center and currently serves as Global Asia Team Leader.  He has been with ITA for eight years.

Screenshot of Export.gov/ASEAN

Screenshot of Export.gov/ASEAN

I’m very excited to announce the launch of the new, ASEAN website as part of Export.gov. Developed by the U.S. Commercial Service in Bangkok, the site highlights trade opportunities in the 10 ASEAN countries: Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The site serves as a valuable resource for U.S. companies exploring business opportunities in the region.

Located in the heart of the Asia-Pacific region, the ASEAN countries are composed of vastly different markets and economies, each possessing their own unique challenges, but all of which hold huge potential for U.S. exporters in a myriad of industry sectors.  Highly notable is the region’s 626 million population and $2.4 trillion economy, which has grown 300 percent since 2001, making it the second fastest growing Asian economy after China.  A proven U.S. export destination, ASEAN countries, taken together, rank 4th after Canada, Mexico and China as a goods export market for the United States, and the United States is the third largest trading partner for ASEAN.  In 2013, U.S. exports to the ASEAN countries ($79 billion) accounted for 5 percent of overall U.S. exports while U.S. goods and services exports to ASEAN supported an estimated 499,000 jobs (365,000 from goods exports and 134,000 from services exports).

The top ASEAN export markets for U.S. originating goods in 2014 were Singapore ($30.5 billion), Malaysia ($13.1 billion), Thailand ($11.8 billion), Philippines ($8.5 billion), Indonesia ($8.3 billion) and Vietnam ($5.7 billion) with the top export prospects including aerospace, energy, infrastructure, medical equipment, environmental technologies, and franchising.

ASEAN is moving toward economic integration, with the goal of creating an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015. The AEC will build on the existing ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) to establish a single market and production base that allows for the free movement of goods, services, and skilled labor. It will also allow for a more open flow of capital and investment, thus increasing its appeal as one of the world’s most attractive consumer markets.

The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service has a strong presence in the ASEAN region, with offices in Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, which provide direct counseling and assistance to U.S. companies doing business in these markets.  The ASEAN Commercial Service office, headed by Regional Senior Commercial Officer Margaret Hanson-Muse, is located in Singapore.

Be sure to visit www.export.gov/asean and take advantage of this amazing resource!

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