Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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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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Exports Stimulate Sales of a Vitamin Distributor

April 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barry: What countries are you in today?

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

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

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

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

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

Barry: Has exporting helped your bottom line?

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

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Six Ways to Make Your Next Trade Show Count

April 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unraveling Global Aerospace Safety Regulations

March 12, 2014

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

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

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

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