Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Begins First Official Trade Mission in Mexico

February 3, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.Infographic shows that current trade in goods with Mexico is eight times what it was in 1990

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker officially began her five-day trade mission to Mexico today, starting the trip in Mexico City. She is joined by representatives from 17 U.S. companies looking to expand partnerships and develop effective strategies for accessing and doing business in the Mexican market.

The focus of this trade mission is to promote U.S. exports to Mexico by helping export-ready U.S. companies launch or increase their business in a number of key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and health IT and medical devices. The companies joining the Secretary address the demand of these growing industries in Mexico.

“The 17 companies who have joined me on this important mission represent the best of American business. These outstanding and innovative companies understand that selling American products overseas is a crucial component to growing and creating jobs,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said.  “I am delighted we can help these companies expand their presence in Mexico through this business development mission.”

The U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship is among the United States’ closest and most extensive in the world and one of the reasons it was selected by Secretary Pritzker as the destination for her first trade mission. Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, and approximately $1.3 billion of merchandise trade and one million people cross the 2,000 mile shared border daily. In addition, deeply integrated supply chains in North America and an established free trade agreement make it easy for Mexico and the U.S. to do business with one another.

The Department of Commerce recognizes that there is incredible potential for both countries to deepen their economic relationship and for U.S. and Mexican companies to do business together. With common values and shared aspirations for prosperity, it is a crucial relationship for both nations, and with Canada’s involvement, it can help make the North American platform the most competitive in the world.

During her trade mission to Mexico, the Secretary will meet with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Wayne, Secretary of Finance Luis Videgaray, Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Secretary of Communications and Transportation Gerardo Ruis Esparza, Minister of Health Mercedes Juan Lopez, state and city government officials, and CEOs of Mexican and U.S. companies.

Additional details about the Secretary’s mission to Mexico City and Monterrey will be announced in the coming days.

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Commercial Service Helps New Jersey Company Transition to Global Market

January 30, 2014

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

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

Adsorptech is a New Jersey-based small business that began as a consulting firm. After choosing to get involved in equipment production, the company sought guidance from the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

The Commercial Service team, partnering with the New Jersey Business Action Center, determined that the prime markets for Adsorptech’s products were actually outside of North America. This encouraged the company’s leaders to begin looking outside the United States for its next group of customers.

Adsorptech CEO Jim Flaherty spoke with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center about how support from the Commercial Service ultimately helped the company through its transition into production and the global marketplace.

Barry:  What specifically did the U.S. Commercial Service offer?

Flaherty: When we first met they were actually willing to do work specific to our needs. We are a small business. We have families to feed, our business to run, customers that already existed. We couldn’t dedicate the majority of our time to exploring these new markets only on a website.

The Commercial Service took time to understand what our product was, how it worked and where it might fit. They went out and did the actual market surveys and came up with what geographies in the world would represent the most likely benefit in the shortest amount of time.

Barry: And then what happened?

Flaherty: Then, we took them up on their offer for doing a Gold Key Service (buyer finding) and we chose two markets. With their help, we chose Turkey and Colombia as the two markets that our product would sell the quickest. They helped us find and interview potential distributors in those two geographies. As a small business we can’t afford to set up shop anywhere, so going through distributors is the best route for Adsorptech.

Barry: How long did it take to get rolling in new international markets?

Flaherty: We’re very aggressive. We already have our first international sale — six months within putting together the strategy, so to me that’s light years. If anyone said what’s the greatest benefit of working with the Commercial Service — it’s speed. They cut off at least three years to the process of understanding how to get the first export to market. We’re off to the races, and it will be a wonderful problem to manage our time.

Barry: Were you intimidated about going outside of the United States to make these sales?

Flaherty: Scared to death! The world is so enormous. The first concern was “My goodness, where do we go?” And it was that help that elevated our comfort level immediately because we had tangible information upon which we could make a decision, instead of just guess. We’re engineers!

Barry: Are you better because of your international experience?

Flaherty: Absolutely. And we’re also better focused. Before as a small business that didn’t have a very specific strategy and target market, we were like the blind squirrel looking for the nut. Eventually you’ll find one, but that’s not going to create a sustained business. The support has helped us see how we can be sustainable. If we’re not going to be around in two to three years, why would anybody want to do business with us?

Barry: You seem optimistic about the future.

Flaherty: Exhilarated more than optimistic. The Commercial Service has shown me and Adsorptech how we can actually accomplish something. The first steps we took were tangibly accurate. As an engineer, proof is in the pudding. 

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Commerce Partnership to Benefit Minority-Owned Exporters

January 24, 2014

Antwaun Griffin is Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Field Operations with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Antwaun Griffin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations within the International Trade Administration’s U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, helping oversee all aspects of the Department’s trade promotion and export assistance services.

Antwaun Griffin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations within the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

This post originally appeared on the Minority Business Development Agency’s blog.

Did you know that according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, minority-owned firms are twice as likely to export as other U.S.-owned businesses? The data indicates that minority-owned firms are best positioned to succeed and expand in the growing global economy. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, exporting enables businesses to boost their bottom line while building their international competitiveness. For many U.S. firms, international diversification has enabled them to weather changes in the economy much better than if they had been selling only in their backyard.

That said, many more minority-owned firms could be exporting more. Many business owners that I meet don’t export, in part because they believe exporting is too burdensome, or they’re unaware of the various resources available to assist them. However, expanding your business through exporting is more viable today than ever before. If you have a good track record of selling in the United States, one of the most open and competitive markets in the world, you are likely a good candidate to make overseas sales.

In 2010, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI), aimed at expanding federal government-wide efforts to assist exporters while supporting millions of U.S. jobs.  These efforts have helped contribute to record U.S. exports culminating in an all-time high of $2.2 trillion in 2012. As a result of the NEI, more and more businesses are taking advantage of key export tools and resources to expand their global market share.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has made expanding exports, including for minority-owned businesses, a key part of the trade and investment priority in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Specifically, the Agenda calls for Commerce to lead NEI 2.0 – the next phase of the successful National Export Initiative – to develop a long-term strategy for orienting more American businesses toward the global marketplace, set new export goals, and coordinate federal activities to support these goals.

A prime example of this effort is a strategic partnership between my agency, the International Trade Administration (ITA), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). With a network of 40 MBDA Business Centers across the United States, MBDA has unique relationships and is well-positioned to support NEI 2.0. ITA’s worldwide network of international trade professionals offers a depth of technical expertise in more than 100 U.S. cities and over 70 countries worldwide. Under this active partnership, both agencies will look to complement and build on each other’s domestic and global relationships.

Together, the two agencies already counsel thousands of U.S. businesses each year, and through this partnership, businesses looking to identify new foreign markets or expand their exports will be better positioned to access the services of both agencies through cross referrals, enhanced sharing of information, and joint trade promotion efforts. For example, MBDA clients can gain exposure and greater insight early on about the benefits of developing an international business plan and information on various federal programs for exporting, such as ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service market research—valuable assets when it comes to long-term strategic planning. Many MBDA clients pursuing government contracts abroad might also be interested in learning more about U.S. Commercial Service Advocacy Center efforts, which last year helped facilitate billions of dollars in overseas opportunities for U.S. companies bidding on foreign government contracts. Likewise, U.S. Commercial Service minority business clients might benefit from MBDA’s broad technical assistance, export financing options, and an array of specialized services available to minority-owned business concerns.

So whether your business is a startup or more established, I encourage you to visit www.export.gov to learn more about our programs and people.

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Upcoming Trade Mission Highlights Key U.S. Economic Partnerships

January 13, 2014

Headshot of Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council.

Danny Sebright is President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council.

The Middle East is an excellent regional market for U.S. companies looking for opportunities overseas. U.S. merchandise exports to the region have grown by more than 50 percent since 2009, totaling $69.6 billion in 2012.

To help American companies achieve further success in the region, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is leading a business development mission to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to help American companies learn about potential opportunities and make important contacts with business and government leaders.

We spoke with Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, to get perspective on our important economic relationship with the U.A.E. and the Middle East as a whole. The Council is committed to the advancement of the commercial relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and it has made trade and foreign direct investment one of its key priorities in its advocacy efforts.

ITA: It looks like trade between the United States and the United Arab Emirates has risen pretty dramatically since 2010 – exports to the U.A.E. have almost doubled and imports from the UAE have more than doubled. Are there any specific catalysts for that trend? Do you expect continued growth?

Sebright: This rise began even before 2010, with the U.A.E. serving as the largest export market for U.S. goods and services in the broader Middle East, from Marrakesh to Bangladesh, for the last five years running. U.S.-U.A.E. trade, expected to exceed 2012’s record of nearly $25 billion in bilateral commerce, is a key contributor to President Obama’s National Export Initiative – launched in 2010 – and the Emirati leadership’s active and visionary efforts to diversify the federal economy and open U.A.E.’s corporate climate to increased foreign direct investment. The economic and trade relationship between the United States and United Arab Emirates has grown exponentially and solidified itself as a key pillar driving commercial and diplomatic engagement thanks in part to an active public sector and industry efforts. As a result, the U.A.E. is largely appreciated as a crucial destination, transit point, and supply chain link for America’s global businesses.

ITA: Are there any specific sectors that should be especially appealing for U.S. businesses in the U.A.E. and in the Middle East?

Sebright: The U.A.E.’s global position as a crossroads for business, trade, and travel has risen dramatically in recent years, with the U.S. playing a significant commercial role in delivering cutting-edge technology, industry thought leadership, and world-class infrastructure to the Emirates. This growth is a direct result of the country’s plans to position the U.A.E. as a global commercial hub by executing ambitious economic development and diversification goals across the industrial spectrum. A few key sectors highlighted in these comprehensive plans that present a wealth of opportunities for U.S. industry include: Infrastructure Development & Green Build; Energy Development (Renewable, Nuclear, Oil & Gas); Aerospace, Defense, Security; Civil and Commercial Aviation; Media, Tourism and Culture; Healthcare and Medicine; and Education.

ITA: What are some challenges for American businesses seeking opportunities in the U.A.E.?

Sebright: The governments of both countries are actively working hand-in-hand with private industry to open the doors for increased U.S.-U.A.E. trade and business – effectively tackling many new and traditional challenges along the way. The biggest challenges for American companies include: navigating the corporate and regulatory landscape of the U.A.E. before setting up shop, conducting thorough due diligence to establish necessary connections with a local partner in the U.A.E., and appreciating the cultural differences between an American boardroom and an Emirati one. Thankfully, turnkey services provided by the Commerce Department and other U.S. agencies geared toward promoting trade and investment are readily available. I would also encourage U.S. firms to plug-in to industry groups like the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council to learn more about opportunities and utilize as a resource when issues arise that affect business practices.

ITA: For businesses interested in infrastructure opportunities in the U.A.E. and Middle East, how will this trade mission help them take advantage of the opportunities available? What are the advantages of working with the Department of Commerce and partner organizations like the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council?

Sebright: It is truly an incredible time for U.S. infrastructure companies looking to do business in the U.A.E. and broader Middle East region – where market-driven consumer demand for world-class infrastructure is rising and opportunities abound. Let me first focus on opportunities in the Emirates. The nation’s leadership has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to airport expansion projects; the development of a federal multi-modal rail system in the U.A.E. set to ultimately link to neighboring countries; boost production from an active and diverse energy grid; and fund ongoing nation-wide road, clean water, and other infrastructure initiatives underway to drive economic growth. The recent awarding of World Expo 2020 hosting duties to Dubai will only cement these efforts. Preparations necessary for Dubai and the U.A.E. to host Expo 2020 are expected to require $500 billion in additional infrastructure investment, directly create approximately 250,000 local jobs, and boost federal efforts to increase global tourism traffic to the Emirates to 20 million by 2020.

In the broader region, commercial globalization and domestic economic development initiatives centered on building new hospitals, educational institutions, and energy diversification projects are creating opportunities for American businesses to bring knowledge and technology to the market. In Qatar, the country is focused on building world class infrastructure to support the 2022 World Cup. In Saudi Arabia, the leadership is focused on providing education and jobs for an increasingly youthful population, nearly 60 percent of whom are under the age of 24.

ITA: Is there any one piece of advice you’d offer to a business looking for opportunities in the U.A.E.?

Sebright: It is important for representatives of American industry operating, or looking to operate, in the U.A.E. to understand and appreciate that most transactions or corporate partnerships develop only after a personal rapport and a clear commitment to the Emirati partner and consumer has been established. In the U.A.E., the prevailing view is that a deal is only as good as the person, or people selling it.

ITA: What would you tell a business that hasn’t considered the U.A.E. as a potential export market?

Sebright: The U.A.E. provides an open corporate environment for American firms to conduct regional and global business in line with international standards and best practices. On top of that, the U.A.E. is centrally located within an eight hour flight of 60% of the world’s key emerging markets, developing local capacity to link up to many of the world’s supply chains, and actively looking to the U.S. as a key commercial and trade partner. Both stable and lucrative, the U.A.E. is a primed business destination with immense potential yet to be tapped.

ITA: Why is the U.S. economic relationship with the U.A.E. and the Middle East region so important?

Sebright: The economic relationship between the U.S. and U.A.E., in particular, is founded in mutual respect and complements close strategic ties formed over years of supporting global efforts to maintain regional security and political stability. U.S. economic engagement with the broader Middle East is incredibly important because the development and cultivation of a successful commercial relationship can boost diplomatic efforts already in motion to establish wider cultural understanding between key consumers and global citizens. Much of the recent political turbulence in the region has been intrinsically linked to communities featuring disenfranchised youth with few economic prospects or opportunities. As the U.A.E. has exemplified, political stability and economic stability go hand in hand.

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Looking South for Your Next Business Opportunities

January 10, 2014

Guest blog post by Michael Masserman, Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of CommerceThe Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

This week Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the Look South Initiative, a movement to help American businesses leverage the Free Trade Agreements the United States shares with 11 countries in Latin America.

The Initiative is an important new part of the Commerce Department’s Open for Business Agenda, supporting American companies looking to increase their global presence.

More and more businesses are exporting, which is leading to record levels of exports for the country. That supports the U.S. economy, and it helps create jobs here at home.

However, most companies that currently export are only taking advantage of one market. Companies exporting to one market average roughly $375,000 in export sales. For a company exporting to two-to-four export markets, that average nearly triples to $1 million in sales. It’s clear that exporting to additional markets improves a business’s bottom line.

For businesses looking to expand their export markets, “Looking South” is a simple way to start. More than half of our free trade agreements are in Latin America, which generally equates to greater ease in entering those markets. Tariffs are low if they exist at all, which can mean a lower cost of doing business.

The best news of all is that we have your back. The entire Department of Commerce is backing this effort along with the International Trade Administration (ITA), the State Department, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, Department of Agriculture, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Here are some ways for you to be a part of the movement:

  • Check out ITA’s Trade Winds – The Americas event in May to connect to a world of opportunity in the Americas. Our Commercial Service team will support you through a series of business-to-business meetings in Colombia, Panama, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru.
  • Visit export.gov/LookSouth to learn about federal resources available to support you. The site features research on a number of markets and industries, and provides tips about doing business in Latin American markets.
  • Visit your nearest Export Assistance Center to enlist the support of our international trade specialists.
  • Send an email to looksouth@trade.gov with any other questions.

Your business’s next big opportunities could be right here in your hemisphere.

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Handy Men and Women Keep the World’s Machinery Humming

January 7, 2014

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

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

ERD Limited is a North Carolina-based company that has seen its number of export markets more than quintuple in less than three years. In that time span, its revenues from global sales went from four percent of total revenue to 25 percent.

Tom Robinson of ERD Limited sat down with ITA’s Doug Barry to discuss how his company expanded to so many export markets with support from the International Trade Administration and other government partners.

Barry: Describe your company. How did it start?

Robinson: ERD Limited is an electronic repair facility. It is engineer-owned and operated. We have been in business for about 20 years in Kernersville, NC. We’re different from our competitors in that we do what we call high-level electronic repairs, of all types and varieties, on basic boards to sophisticated robotics. We deal in what’s called “legacy electronics.”

Barry: Is that a fancy way of saying that you fix used stuff?

Robinson: Yes. Most people don’t realize it, but 85 percent of what’s made or moved in the world today is done so by equipment that is almost 14 years old. Although this is a technology and whizz-bang kind of society, and we think everything is new, it’s really not that way. Those pieces of equipment are breaking down, the manufacturers may be long gone or bought up by another company, and what is needed to support those electronics is no longer available. That’s where we come in.

Barry: Where do you do business?

Robinson: About two and a half years ago we were doing business in 10 countries, and because of our connection with the U.S. Commercial Service [part of ITA], the State of North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Technical Development Center, we have gone from 10 countries to 65. Revenue from international business is about 25 percent for 2013, which is up from four percent just a few years ago.

Barry: How did you expand to so many markets in such a short time, especially since the majority of U.S. exporters sell to only one market?

Robinson: One of the things about our company that’s very unusual is we did this expansion and growth without having any salespeople in country. We developed a Web presence that is probably second to none right now, using YouTube and all the latest social networking. When there is a problem and someone needs equipment repaired, we pop up very high in search engines.

Second, the U.S. Commercial Service has been very instrumental in identifying places that we need to look at, and we have used their Gold Key Service. We just recently came back from China, and that was partially done through a Gold Key, in which we met two of the major manufacturers of cell phones in China and the world. And we had very successful one-on-one meetings with them, to the point where a relationship is forming.

Barry: What’s your advice for small companies that are interested in exporting in a more strategic way?

Robinson: My advice would be to take a look at yourself. Make sure that you’re ready to do these things and that you have an understanding of who you are, what your marketplace is, and the cultures that you will be dealing with, because they are different. If you walk into it blindly you may be thinking you’re winning when you’re actually losing, and actually winning when you think you’re losing. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth doing.

Barry: Are you a better company as a result of your international experience?

Robinson: Oh, we are more refined and defined than we ever were prior to starting the process. We have weekly meetings on what we can do better, how we can do it, and the igniter was the international marketplace and what it offered and the fact that there is so much business out there outside of the United States.

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Big Turnout in NYC Puts Spotlight on Exporting Anniversary

December 20, 2013

Curt Cultice is a Senior Communications Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service.

An official proclamation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared Dec. 16 as "NY U.S. Export Assistance Center Day," in honor of 100 years of export assistance in the city.

An official proclamation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared Dec. 16 as “NY U.S. Export Assistance Center Day,” in honor of 100 years of export assistance in the city.

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City was the setting on a wintery Monday, December 16, as more than 250 businesspeople and other participants turned out for the 100th anniversary celebration of the opening of the New York U.S. Export Assistance Center. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also proclaimed December 16 as “NY U.S. Export Assistance Center Day,” further recognizing the impressive milestone.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke keynoted the event, saying, “New York businesses recognized 100 years ago what we know holds true today: The world is full of consumers who highly value U.S.-made products.”

Last year, the New York City metro area exported $102.3 billion in merchandise exports to world markets, making it the 2nd largest metropolitan export source in the United States.

The NYC event, hosted by the New York District Export Council, also highlighted the importance of exporting through a panel discussion moderated by Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Field Operations Antwaun Griffin, with an array of award-winning exporters participating.

Many of the companies were previous Presidential “E Award” or U.S. Department of Commerce Export Achievement Certificate awardees who have benefitted from local U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center services in their export endeavors.

Helene Herman, director of global marketing for Brooklyn-based Lee Spring, a manufacturer of wire springs, said at the event that the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service as being of the “best kept secrets” in business and that more businesses should take advantage of the many export services offered. Lee Spring currently sells goods worldwide and has utilized a range of export services.

“Overseas clients often have a perception of American products as being higher quality,” she said, noting her company’s success in China as one example.

Acting Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke reminded businesses that exporting can be an important way to increase revenues.

Acting Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke reminded New York business leaders that exporting can be an important way to increase revenues.

Among the companies represented and benefitting from export assistance was family-owned Love & Quiches Gourmet of Long Island, which has utilized export counseling and Export-Import Bank financing to sell its gourmet foods to multiple world markets; The Jump Apparel Group of Manhattan, which is marketing its innovative dress and sportswear line of clothing in more than 20 international stores and home shopping networks; and Lumi-Solair, which recently made its first international sale, supplying  renewable, grid-free power equipment to India. The sale enabled the firm to sustain local NYC jobs.

Exporting is more beneficial than ever, even for the smallest businesses looking to strengthen their bottom line. This was further demonstrated by the entrepreneurial spirit at the event’s “International Trade Showcase,” where program attendees perused the products and services exhibited by 20 successful local exporters – selling everything from hop extracts and oils, to wire springs, hydraulic technology, language software, and export management services, to name a few products.

Summing up the importance of exporting, Reinke added: “We remain focused on reaching President Obama’s National Export Strategy goals because we know that in today’s global economy, if you’re not exporting, you’re falling behind.”

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Export Promotion Makes U.S. the Destination for One-Stop Shopping

December 9, 2013

Richard Swanson is the Pacific South Regional Network Director for the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Werner Escher, far right, receives the Peace Through Commerce Medal Award from Deputy Under Secretary Ken Hyatt at the IPW Tourism Summit in June 2013. At far left, Roger Dow, President of the U.S. Travel Association.

Werner Escher (right) receives the Peace Through Commerce Medal Award from then-Acting Deputy Under Secretary of International Trade Ken Hyatt (center) at the IPW Tourism Summit in June 2013. At far left is Roger Dow, President of the U.S. Travel Association.

It is no accident that guests travel from countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, or regions like Middle East to seek out top brands, fashion, and dining in the United States.

Werner Escher has understood this for four decades. As the director of domestic and international markets for South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., Escher has implemented a strategic plan to cater to international visitors.

His efforts have made South Coast Plaza a major shopping destination for foreign visitors to Southern California, and he was recognized this year by the Department of Commerce with a Peace through Commerce Medal.

“The number one activity of people who travel is shopping,” Escher explains. “We chose to expand South Coast Plaza’s global reach and in so doing placed the retail sector as an integral part of attracting in-bound travelers to the United States.”

That is a customer base that continues to grow. Travel and tourism exports experienced a seven percent increase in the first half of 2013 over the same time period in 2012, totaling $87.1 billion.

What began as several modest promotional trips to Japan in the 1970s blossomed into a truly global marketing effort. In 1987, South Coast Plaza launched its “California Dream Promotion,” one of the largest overseas promotions in the history of the state. It put the shopping center on the map next to other Southern California attractions like movie studios, amusement parks, and zoos.

South Coast Plaza now actively markets in a half-dozen countries, and its foreign language assistance program has translators that speak more than 40 languages.

South Coast Plaza has recently turned its attention toward the growing number of visitors from China. Escher has teamed up with the U.S. Commercial Service to conduct training sessions for retailers on hosting visitors from China, and has spearheaded South Coast Plaza’s annual Lunar New Year celebrations, drawing visitors from China and throughout Asia.

Further solidifying the role of retail in tourism promotion, South Coast Plaza has also actively supported the Orange County Tourism Council’s new China marketing office that opened in Shanghai earlier this year.

South Coast Plaza annually welcomes more than 22 million visitors and a significant number are from overseas. According to Escher, approximately one-third of South Coast Plaza’s annual travelers come from the visitor market segment. South Coast Plaza’s gross sales, approaching $2 billion, is among the highest in the United States and supports thousands of American jobs.

South Coast Plaza has become an important tourism promotion asset in Southern California, contributing to the marketability of the region as a key destination for international visitors. Escher and his team work with the Orange County Tourism Council, the State of California and Brand USA to promote tourism to the United States from across the globe.

In June of 2013, Werner Escher was recognized for “exceptional vision and leadership in growing travel and tourism for the United States in support of President Obama’s National Export Initiative” when he was presented with the Peace through Commerce Medal by then-Acting Deputy Under Secretary of International Trade Ken Hyatt in a ceremony at the International Pow Wow (IPW) Tourism Summit in Las Vegas.

Werner Escher and the South Coast Plaza are excellent examples of the clients that ITA’s Commercial Service help expand their exports and increase their revenues.

Whether you are exporting travel & tourism services, or another product or service, please contact us to find out how we can help your firm achieve success in international markets!

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Cosmetics Make for Beautiful Exports!

December 5, 2013

Elisa Martucci is a Commercial Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service, based in Rome, Italy.

Data show that U.S. exports in cosmetics and beauty products have increased every year since 2009, from $8.1 billion to $10.4 billion.

Data show that U.S. exports in cosmetics and beauty products have increased every year since 2009.

The beauty of U.S. cosmetics isn’t just in the eye of the beholder; it’s also in the eye of the economy. Cosmetics and beauty products are significant contributors to American exports and support jobs throughout the country.

U.S. exports of cosmetics products have increased every year since 2009, and the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service wants to help more American businesses in this sector find success overseas.

One way we’re helping is by hosting a series of webinars on how businesses in the cosmetics and beauty products industry can increase their exports to Europe. We hosted webinars for 33 companies looking to do business in the Nordic region and Eastern Europe, and we have another webinar focusing on Western Europe on Dec. 11.

Our specialists based throughout the continent help businesses like yours increase exports every day. We can provide unmatched provide insight into the European market, including:

  • European distribution channels;
  • Insights on sales and marketing;
  • Guidance on regulations, including labeling and documentation;
  • And opportunities to promote your products.

Our commercial specialists all over the United States are also available all year to help your company compete in Europe and in markets all over the world.

You may have never considered taking your products overseas before, but I hope you’ll contact our team to learn about opportunities to help your business grow by competing overseas. Cosmetics and beauty products exports were more than $9.5 billion in 2012, and we’re on pace to beat that in 2013.

We want your business to be among those that are increasing exports, finding new markets, enjoying greater profits, and supporting growth.

Register now for our Dec. 11 webinar, or contact your nearest Export Assistance Center today!

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“Squeezing In” to New International Markets

December 2, 2013
Rep. David Price and ITA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations Antwaun Griffin recognize Urban Planet Mobile with an Export Achievement Certificate at the 2013 Discover Forum.

Rep. David Price, D-NC, (left) and ITA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations Antwaun Griffin (right) recognize Urban Planet Mobile with an Export Achievement Certificate at the 2013 Discover Forum.

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

Urban Planet Mobile (UPM), based in Durham, N.C., specializes in education applications that can be used on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to teach users to speak English. The company started in 2008, and has used services from the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service to develop a customer base in 38 countries. Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center sat down with UPM founder Brian Oliversmith during a recent conference to discuss the company and how government support has helped UPM succeed overseas.

Barry: What’s your product and where are you selling it?

Oliversmith: When we told people we were doing mobile education they thought we would be training our mothers how to use their cell phone. What we do is develop education products we can deliver over the mobile networks.

Our best-selling product is Urban English. We’re selling it from Burma to Malaysia and Indonesia in the Southeast Asia region to Jordan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Our latest effort has been a large launch in Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, and we are now going into Nicaragua.

I would say about 85-90 percent of our business is export.

Barry: Are you growing and adding jobs?

Oliversmith: We are growing and adding. We have about 28 employees, and we’re growing both globally and here locally. I’m proud to say we just hired a recent intern yesterday who is going to be running a user interface design, and she came from the Durham Design School. We’re interviewing another fellow from Duke this summer.

Barry: Any humorous stories about different kinds of English and how they’re learned?

Oliversmith: It’s interesting, when I went to Indonesia, one of the Indonesian guys said something about “Let me squeeze back in” because we were in a very, very narrow hallway. He said: “Squeeze in. I know that phrase. I learned that yesterday on Urban English.” We teach a more relaxed, casual communication. We even have a line called Urban English Hip Hop, which uses Hip Hop to teach conversation.

Barry: Is your company a better company as a result of its international experience?

Oliversmith: I absolutely think our company is a better and stronger company because of our international exposure and the reason why is because it has caused us to diversify our workforce from day one. In our little team, we have people from Santiago, Chile, and Lithuania to people who are from Russia and Korea, and Japan. And many of them have been with us three or four years. It gives us a global perspective. It’s very hard to do business worldwide from a very American-centric perspective.

Barry: Do you mentor non-exporting companies in the area and what do you say to them?

Oliversmith: We actually do. We have a strategic relationship and a partnership with a large education company, Measurement Incorporated, here in Durham that employs about 400 people but doesn’t do any exporting. They’ve started an alliance with us, and are seeing what demand is for some of their products in an external market.I think it’s started to really open up their eyes to the opportunity they have internationally.

What I tell people is there is a great big world out there that is very, very hungry for education products, especially American education products. If they start working with some of the folks at the U.S. Commercial Service, where we started, they can get some good guidance on where to start.

Barry: Can you say more about the difference government assistance made in where you are today?

Oliversmith: The year 2008 was a really tough time to start a company, because this little recession happened about five months later. So we had to be very careful where we were going to spend marketing budgets and resources.

Our first major investment was to fly to a conference at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the U.S. Commercial Service. I sat down with about 18 Commercial Service officers from all over Asia where I had never been. I started to narrow down where we were going to first jump into the market, where we would start to spend our real resources. It was an amazing three days. I learned more in that conference than I could have learned in two years flying around on airplanes. Since then we now invest in those countries and are up and operational in many of them.

Barry: And your local export assistance center, have they been helpful?

Oliversmith: Incredible. Before we knew it, we were in a wonderful university they found for us in Burma, and less than nine months later we launched our product there.

I think a lot of companies have the wrong attitude that they need to wait until they’re a certain size to export, and really, exporting can help take you to that certain size. I would encourage people to start at an earlier stage to see what they can learn from the U.S. Commercial Service.  How owners, without having to go to all these countries, can learn a lot about where they should start.

Go early. Don’t wait.

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