Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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Rebuilding, Opportunity, Challenges in Philippines

June 6, 2014

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

Developing countries have plenty of difficult tasks to overcome while modernizing. The Philippines was a special case, as a 2013 typhoon brought destruction and tragedy to the islands.

But some good news has returned to a population inching towards the 100 million mark.

For one thing, GDP growth is at 7.2 percent, among the highest growth rates in Asia. That’s expected to continue, fueled in large measure by repairing damage from the deadly storm. Sound macroeconomic policies under President Aquino’s administration have been helpful, and robust growth is expected to continue.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited this nation with a delegation of U.S. business executives to discuss ways the United States can support rebuilding and growth in the Philippines, and how to advance the U.S-Filipino commercial relationship.

“This is a young, growing, vibrant market,” said Senior Commercial Officer Jim McCarthy, who hosted Secretary Pritzker on her visit.

He points out that the Philippines is the 12th most populous and fourth-largest English-speaking country in the world. “The people here think well and favorably of Americans and American products.”

With a median age of 23, this market holds plenty of future opportunity for U.S. businesses.

In particular, opportunities abound for U.S. exporters in aviation, security, defense, franchising, energy, infrastructure, franchising, IT, just to name a few.

For all the upside, said McCarthy, “it’s important to remember the Philippines is a work in progress.”

Filipinos are working to improve transparency and eliminate corruption in the market. Improvements in the nation’s Ease of Doing Business rankings led to an increase in the country’s investment rankings from all three major debt-rating agencies.

Other challenges persist. With high economic growth and a rising population come strains on infrastructure, including power generation, roads, airports, and ports. Government procurement requires patience and determination.

McCarthy believes that U.S. Government services available in the country lower risks and increase the success rate for U.S. companies.

The Department of Commerce, through its U.S. Commercial Service in Manila, organized five U.S. trade missions last year, the first such missions in several years. Delegations came from the states of Utah and Iowa, and from sectors such as energy and education. In addition, the multi-sectoral Trade Winds mission came to the Philippines in 2013. Three more delegations will visit the country later this year and include franchising, medical equipment, and a mission from the State of Mississippi.

“The increased interest in our services shows dramatically more interest in the export opportunities in the Philippines,” McCarthy said. “We urge U.S. companies to take their first or a second look at the country.”

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Understanding Business Opportunities in Vietnam

June 3, 2014

Peggy Keshishian is the Acting Senior Commercial Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Foreign Commercial Service Team in Vietnam.

Secretary Pritzker met with leaders from the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

Secretary Pritzker met with leaders from the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

It was an honor to host Commerce Secretary Pritzker here in Vietnam. She and the visiting delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council are absolutely right to prioritize the Vietnam market and their visit to the country will do nothing but help solidify a promising commercial relationship.

Here’s what I know about Vietnam: Despite some potential pitfalls, it is a hotbed of opportunity for U.S. businesses.

There are two important reasons Vietnam is a promising market:

  1. The country is modernizing, meaning there are numerous needs for infrastructure development. Improvements of transportation systems — including subways, highways, and airports — not only mean opportunities for U.S. firms, but also an improved business environment in the country.
  2. The population is also young; 70 percent of Vietnamese citizens are under 40 years old. That means there is tremendous opportunity for developing brand loyalty among consumers. Vietnamese citizens recognize the quality of U.S. products, and incomes in the country are rising. That helps create a promising environment for U.S. goods and services.

That said, it’s important to recognize there are some risks in the Vietnamese market.

Much of the money being injected into the economy comes from foreign sources, and is often provided by nations that expect their companies to receive a leg-up when it comes to competing for state contracts. You need to aware of how projects are financed so that you don’t end up spinning your wheels competing for a contract your business is unlikely to win.

This is something Secretary Pritzker addressed in several meetings with Vietnamese leaders, and I believe the country is taking important steps to increase transparency and fairness.

Our Foreign Commercial Service team works hard to make sure any American company looking to enter this market knows how to succeed. We work with our Commercial Service colleagues in the United States to support U.S. businesses with services like market research, finding the most qualified local partners, and discovering the best opportunities available.

We’ll remain here on the ground, continuing to support U.S. businesses and building off the success of the Secretary’s visit.

If you’re interested in opportunities in Vietnam – or in any other market – you should contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to get started.

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Four Questions to Ask Before Your Business Looks Overseas

May 21, 2014

Business people closing the deal by shaking hands.   [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786738][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/group.jpg[/img][/url]  [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url]Ken Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Orlando Export Assistance Center.

I work with a lot of small businesses looking to begin exporting. It’s not uncommon for me to be asked, “How do you know if a company is export ready?”

The more relevant question is, “How does a company know that it’s export ready?” That’s a tricky one! For me, there are four main questions a company has to answer before it knows it’s export-ready:

  1. What’s your goal? It’s important to understand what you want to get out of exporting. Do you want to soften sales cycles? Do you want to diversify risk? Do you want to grow sales or keep production facilities busy?There are a variety of potential objectives and there may be more than one driver behind your interest in export. It’s important to be clear about the objective that is most important, though, and avoid objectives that are unrealistic or unattainable.
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  3. Do you have the resources? Drilling down a bit, you need to know the resources necessary to achieve your most important objective. When it comes to resource constraints, these are the big three:

    • Management and Personnel: Can management devote the necessary time and manpower to support global business?
    • Production Capacity: Can your business meet an increase in demand?
    • Financial Resources: You don’t necessarily have to have money in the bank, but you do need to be bankable.

     

  4. Have you done your research? You really need to do some evaluation here – both about your company and your target markets. You need to know your competitive advantage and whether it’s something global consumers will value. You have to know your buyer’s profile and how buyers will find you and your products. You also need to know how much risk you are willing to take. There is no right export market but there are a lot of export markets that may be wrong for your company. Following the herd can lead you over the cliff!
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  6. Are you committed? If you’ve read this far, you probably have the final thing I look for in determining export readiness: commitment. Export isn’t any more complicated than any other line of business. However, export requires compliance with U.S. and foreign government regulation, observance of foreign cultural and business norms, a willingness to follow and anticipate current events, and the flexibility to roll with the punches. Export isn’t for everyone, but with the right planning and support, there’s no reason that export has to be wrong for you.

If you know the answers to the above questions and you feel ready to get started exporting, it might be time for you to visit your nearest Export Assistance Center. If not, you might want to talk to your local Small Business Development Center.

If you need a little more information, our Basic Guide to Exporting is a great resource to help you evaluate your export readiness.

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Startup→Global Connects New Entrepreneurs to the World

May 6, 2014

Ashley Zuelke and Julia McNerney represent the International Trade Administration on the U.S. Government’s Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee.

The Design Workshop at the White House featured group activities identifying best practices for entrepreneurs looking to compete overseas.

The Design Workshop at the White House featured group activities identifying best practices for entrepreneurs looking to compete overseas.

The words “start-up” and “global” don’t often appear in the same sentence. But they should.

Start-up firms and entrepreneurs represent the cutting edge of commercial product and service innovation. More importantly, they are critical job creators in the American economy. That’s why the Commerce Department, in partnership with the White House, has taken concrete action to improve the environment for high-growth entrepreneurship across the country, including increasing access to capital and reducing barriers to growth.

Last week, at a Design Workshop at the White House, we took the next step in the Administration’s support of start-ups and entrepreneurs by beginning a conversation about how to better engage the start-up community on going global.

By bringing together start-ups, accelerators, incubators, venture capital firms, service providers, universities, and government officials, we plan to develop a platform for a Startup→Global initiative that will be constructed and implemented together with those key stakeholders. These partners will help to kick-start a national conversation to further build out this concept and design a concrete, actionable, and measureable initiative to ensure that businesses in this ecosystem are poised to capitalize on the 1 billion new customers that will be entering the global middle class in the next 15 years.

We recognize that certain start-ups, depending on where the company is in its lifecycle and its industry subsector, are often poised to rapidly expand to global markets right away. Our hope is to design an initiative to help make that not only possible, but most importantly, successful for more start-ups.

We believe this will lead to more start-ups like Fenugreen, a social enterprise that takes on global waste with a simple FreshPaper innovation. Its product is now being used by farmers and families in more than 40 countries, and it’s simultaneously establishing initiatives to benefit local food banks in the U.S. and small-scale farmers in the developing world.

These types of products and innovations, from agribusiness to health information technology to renewable energy, have the ability to transform the way that countries are developing while also advancing core U.S. values of trade, democracy, and security.

A centerpiece of the President’s National Export Initiative has always been an effort to make exports an essential part of doing business, and have more companies selling more goods and services abroad. By helping more high-growth start-ups go global, we will further encourage trade as broader part of the American business DNA.

Ultimately, this will lead to the United States being better positioned for future economic growth and competitiveness, and to becoming a more globally fluent nation.

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Discover the Next Markets for Your Business

May 1, 2014

Arun Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Logo. The DISCOVER Series is your business's link to expanding your exports all over the world.

The DISCOVER Series is your business’s link to expanding your exports all over the world.

Succeeding in the global marketplace is all about intelligence. Businesses need to understand their target markets, identify the key opportunities, and have the resources to compete.

That’s what the DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS (DGM) Business Forum Series is all about.

Today in San Antonio, business leaders from around the country are joining U.S. Commercial Service staff from around the world to help companies do three things: Compete, win, and grow in the global marketplace.

The next two days will be full of market insight, best practices, key tips, and lessons learned for businesses looking to succeed in Africa, the Middle East, and India. These are three growing and promising global markets for U.S. companies.

What better place to for this event than in San Antonio, Texas, where exports have tripled since 2009!

But DGM isn’t about just one city or one region; it’s about opportunities – global opportunities. The DISCOVER series is traveling the country, providing unrivaled insight into growing export markets and key U.S. industries. Upcoming forums include the following:

Attendees at these conferences not only get to network with other business leaders and market specialists, they can receive one-on-one counseling with commercial officers working in target markets. They can also receive personalized strategic advice to make sure they have every advantage available when competing overseas.

If you couldn’t make this event in San Antonio, you can follow updates from the conference on Twitter at @DiscoverForums and with #DGMSanAntonio. You’ll be able to catch some of the insights participating businesses are learning and see first-hand testimonials as to how beneficial events like this can be for your company.

Make sure to check out the upcoming DISCOVER events and register for one near you. If you have questions, you can contact us right now at DiscoverGlobalMarkets@trade.gov.

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Five Tips for Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Global Business

April 23, 2014

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

You spent the time and money to build your business, including the development of products and services (patents, trade secrets and copyrights), business methods (trade secrets), brands (trademarks and service marks), and your presence on the Internet (trademarks and associated domain names, copyrights). Why wouldn’t you protect these Intellectual Property (IP) assets from unauthorized use?

Stopfakes.gov is your portal to resources for protecting intellectual property.Many small businesses are at a disadvantage in not having the expertise or resources to prevent theft of their intellectual property in the global marketplace. So in recognition of World IP Day on April 26, here are some simple, practical measures that any exporter can take to protect their IP assets:

  1. Conduct an IP audit. An IP audit will document the assets that you own, the assets that you may be acquiring, and how you’re using other people’s IP. It should support your export marketing plan, as an IP audit allows you to make business decisions about which assets to protect in each market. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; and it’s something that you can do yourself.
  2. Own your business… all of it! If you allow your foreign business partner to register your IP, in most foreign countries, they become the “right holder.” You need to register your own IP assets and record trademark and copyright registrations (and in some countries, design patents) with the customs administration to block the import and export of infringing items.
  3. Know your partners. Your local U.S. Export Assistance Center can help you to qualify existing or potential foreign business partners. Include provisions in your contracts that require the use of original and unaltered products and preclude the partners’ registration of your IP.
  4. Monitor the use of your IP. Plan to visit the market regularly; and use track-and-trace technology like RFID or bar codes to make it easier to audit products and spot fakes. Monitor domain names, e-commerce and auction platforms; and use Internet search engines – including image search – to find infringing products online. Include the obligation to report instances of infringement in your contracts with foreign business partners; and train business partners to spot fakes.
  5. Have an enforcement strategy. Make it part of your export marketing plan to know the administrative and legal relief available to you to enforce your Intellectual Property Rights in each export market. STOPfakes.gov offers country toolkits for select markets. You can also obtain country-specific information from U.S. embassies by contacting your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

There is no substitute for qualified legal counsel. However, there is a lot that you can do yourself to get started. For more information, please visit www.STOPfakes.gov and the Inventors Resources Center from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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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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