Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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Making the Most of International Trade Shows

July 25, 2014

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

The International Trade Administration Commercial Service team may be the most connected business partners you will ever have. Our specialists are export experts, giving your business advice on potential trade partners, ways to market your company, and how to successfully export.

Now our Commercial Service team is making it even easier to succeed in exporting through an exciting video series called Export Experts. This series will provide information on trade shows, tips for exporting to rural areas, international exporting advice, and so much more.

The first video of this series is about making the most of international trade shows, which can be great opportunities to meet lots of different people in one place. They can be efficient and beneficial events for any company looking to expand to new markets.

Here are some tips about trade shows that we as commercial service officers have learned through our years of exporting assistance.

  1. Go prepared. Know your product, understand your client base, be professional. You are at a trade show to create connections with people that could become your business partners. Making a good impression is key, so know your stuff.
  2. Be interactive. One great way to stand out is to have something that attracts people to your booth. Whether it be a video or a product demonstration, keep people engaged.
  3. Make connections. You are there to meet new people, and form potential partnerships, not just to sell your product. If your company can help another company make money, you will always be in business.
  4. Follow up, and follow through. Probably the most important thing to do after a trade show is reconnect with the people you met. The only way to create these lasting business relationships is to stay connected to the people you meet.

Commercial Service officers are here to help you succeed in expanding your business. We have various tools and ideas to prepare you and maximize your time at trade shows. Contact your nearest Export Assistance Center today to find out about upcoming trade shows and how to succeed in the global marketplace.

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Four Points for Finding “Harmony” in Exporting

July 23, 2014

Kenneth R. Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center.

A person in a stock room examines boxes

The numbers on the box help trade authorities know what’s in the box.

Numbers, numbers, numbers…! There are so many numbers to keep track of in global trade; and three, in particular, are commonly confused: the Harmonized Schedule (HS) Code, Schedule B Number, and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Number. They’re related but not the same.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, or Harmonized System, is a means for customs agents to know “what’s in the box” without having to open it or understand what’s written in various foreign languages on the shipping documentation. It’s a system for identifying commodities in trade based on a string of six to eight digits. The Harmonized System is used by 179 countries covering about 98 percent of world trade for the assessment of customs duties (“border taxes” on imports) and the collection of statistical data.

Under the Harmonized System, products are classified into two categories, 21 sections, and 96 chapters by form and function. For example, 8471.30, is “Portable automatic data processing machines, weighing not more than 10 kg, consisting of at least a central processing unit, a keyboard and a display.”

English translation: laptop computer.

Combined with the product’s origin and value, customs agents use the HS Code to derive the tariff to be assessed.

The string of numbers that customs uses to assess taxes is six to eight digits long. To get even more specific in the collection of statistics, however, countries that use the Harmonized System are permitted to add digits to the HS Code to a total of 10 digits. In the United States, we refer to the full, 10- digit string as the Schedule B Number if it’s for export and the HTS Number if it’s for import.

So many numbers, so little time! Here are four important things to know about the Harmonized System, Schedule B, and HTS:

  • Nearly Identical. Schedule B and HTS Numbers are identical except for the last two digits. You’d use these numbers on forms submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Bureau of the Census. You can self-classify your exports under Schedule B and obtain on-line training and support from the U.S. Census website.
  • Electronic Export Information (EEI). Exporters have the legal obligation under the Foreign Trade Regulations to record the export of any consignment whose value is equal to or in excess of $2,500 using the EEI. The Schedule B Number is used on the EEI to identify the commodities being exported.
  • Trade Data and Foreign Tariff Schedules. You can derive an HS Code by looking at the first six to eight digits of a Schedule B or HTS Number. Because of its universality, trade data is commonly reported by governments, the World Trade Organization and United Nations using the Harmonized System Code. Hence, the HS Code is an important tool in conducting market research. Similarly, the HS Code is the key to searching foreign governments’ tariff schedules.
  • Free Trade Agreements. You can view a list of Free Trade Agreements to which the U.S. is a Contracting Party, as well as detailed information on the benefits of each and how to take advantage of them.

Need help? Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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How to Get Paid for Your Aerospace Exports

June 17, 2014

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

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

Photo of an airplane engine.Have you ever wondered if you should extend credit to your overseas customers in the same way you do your national customers? Or whether your banking relationships are solid enough to allow this type of credit?

Now’s the time to start getting some answers. Register now for the July 24th Trade Finance Webinar for U.S. Aerospace Exporters and gain expert insight about topics such as:

  • Dos and don’ts of export finance;
  • Methods of payment from overseas customers;
  • How the Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Administration (SBA) can help finance aerospace exports, and;
  • Ways the U.S. Department of Commerce is helping aerospace manufacturers learn about export opportunities and how to take advantage of them.

Companies in southern Ohio are welcome to participate in-person in Cincinnati, where you can meet one-on-one with finance experts from the Export-Import Bank, SBA, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, and PNC Bank, who can answer any questions you may have.

Both webinar and in-person attendees will leave this event better prepared to succeed in global business.

You can register or find more details online, or contact Howard Thompson of the Ohio Aerospace Institute at (440)-962-3237.

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Burma: An Old Civilization Opens to New Ideas

June 9, 2014

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

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma is opening up as a nation and an economy after decades of isolation. As the nation develops, there are numerous opportunities for U.S. companies to support the nation as it grows, modernizes, and brings in new products and services.

Commerce Secretary Pritzker completed a commercial diplomacy trip to Burma and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council to solidify the commercial relationship between the United States and the region.

The International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service is also opening an office in Rangoon to support U.S. businesses looking for opportunities in this new market. Our staff will help companies understand market trends, navigate Burmese regulations, and find qualified business partners.

Commercial Officer Mike McGee is based in Thailand, but has worked with companies doing business in Burma for years. He spoke about the U.S.-Burma commercial relationship and path forward with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: You commute regularly between Bangkok and Rangoon. Since we spoke a year ago about the easing of sanctions and the opening of the country to U.S. investment, in what ways have things changed?

McGee: Burma still has a wealth of need. After more than 50 years of stagnation and isolation, the country and its people need just about everything—from consumer goods to housing to a functioning electrical grid. So there is a huge opportunity, and there’s almost no sector that does not have tremendous need for bringing in new companies and products.

Barry: There is great internal and external pressure to open up more and to reform. How’s the government doing?

McGee: It depends on who you ask. I think it’s accurate to say that a lot of progress has been made in a short time, but much more needs to be done. We feel strongly that there can be a commercial connection to further recognition of human rights, and that will be a key focus of our work here going forward.

U.S. companies that are on the ground now fully support this approach. They are not here to extract and leave. They want to help the Burmese prosper, be free, and contribute to the well-being of the entire region. We are in this for the long haul, and much patience and engagement on every level is needed.

Barry: How do political and business leaders in Burma view the United States?

McGee: Very positively. We hear over and over again how the United States is the “Gold Standard” for just about everything.

In the area of energy production, especially electrical, the government invites greater participation by the U.S. private sector. They’re also interested in our LNG and wind power technology. Some earlier energy contracts have gone to UK and Chinese companies, but in future contracting rounds I think we’ll see much more U.S. participation.

Barry: U.S. economic sanctions have eased but not disappeared.

McGee: That’s true. If the reforms backslide or don’t continue forward, there needs to be consequences. The government is in uncharted waters, and there is much that we don’t understand about its workings.

That said, the United States is engaging with the Burmese on a variety of fronts. The U.S. Agency for International Development has programs in economic development and creating a civil society. The Peace Corps is setting up shop. Treasury and Agriculture people are here. The U.S. Commercial Service will open an office soon to help U.S. businesses spot opportunities and find buyers.

Barry: Burma is not a rich country, and “grinding” is an apt word to describe the poverty in the countryside where most Burmese live.

McGee: It’s not rich, yet. Burma is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, so it’s very difficult to try to introduce new technologies and new programs, partly because of the lack of a regulatory infrastructure, a legal infrastructure in place, but also just the poverty that exists.

The good news is that this is in many ways, a very wealthy country. It is very rich in resources and will have huge bearing for many years in the Southeast Asia and East Asia Pacific.

Barry: It’s a pretty exciting prospect for U.S. companies to get in on the ground floor.

McGee: Yes. What we have been largely advising is that companies find distributors and begin to get their products into the country. We can help, and will be even more helpful when the Commercial Service office opens in the U.S. Embassy later this year.

Barry: How do you help U.S. companies find partners?

McGee: We help with the due diligence process because there still is a fairly sizeable list of people who are prohibited for us to do business with. We offer a service called International Company Profile in which we make sure that their intended partners are the best choice in every sense of the phrase.

Increasingly, there are traders who are looking for the best businesspeople with the best price on the products the people need and want in the country. One of the things that I’ve been very surprised at is how vibrant the commercial environment is despite all of the prohibitions, despite all of the obstacles.

The Burmese are very resourceful, and they are very kind and friendly people.

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Rebuilding, Opportunity, Challenges in Philippines

June 6, 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.

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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