Archive for the ‘Look South’ Category

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Taking Advantage of Business Opportunities in Colombia

June 25, 2014

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency blog.

George Mui is the Access to Markets team lead in MBDA’s Office of Business Development.

Aerial view of a city in ColombiaThe U.S. Department of Commerce, through its Look South campaign, helps U.S. exporters to expand their markets and identify new opportunities in Latin America. U.S. goods exports to Peru, Panama, Mexico, and Colombia have increased every year since 2009. As we celebrate the second year anniversary of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement more American companies are exporting goods and services to Colombia, the vast majority of which are duty-free. The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is just one of the11 free trade agreements between the United States and Latin American countries.

That’s why MBDA San Antonio Business Center director Orestes Hubbard and MBDA Global Business Center project manager David Leister visited Colombia along with an MBDA Global Business Center client, Carlos Silva, CEO of USATEQ, a Colombian native.

MBDA San Antonio director Orestes Hubbard shared his experience with George Mui, MBDA’s Access to Markets team lead in the Office of Business Development.

Mui: Why did you choose to travel to Colombia?

Hubbard: Colombia has a very advantageous geography and is roughly twice the size of the state of Texas – where I live. Colombia is also the only country in South America with access to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and has long had good diplomatic and trade relations with the United States.

Mui: What was the purpose of your trip?

Hubbard: The purpose of the trip was to make contacts and identify concrete and tangible contracting opportunities for not only our center clients, but also opportunities for minority-owned businesses across the nation. We visited the two largest cities and major centers of commerce and industry, Bogota and Medellin.

Mui: You found some impressive opportunities – can you highlight a few of the industries?

Hubbard: In total, we discovered over $30 billion of business opportunities. There are private sector opportunities for U.S. construction and engineering companies looking for potential partners on infrastructure projects. The Colombian government has a number of opportunities in the renewable energy, highway, and railway industries. Colombia is the third ranked automobile manufacturer in Latin America, which creates significant opportunities for manufactured products, preferably automotive-related. For more information on opportunities in Colombia I recommend businesses visit the best prospect sectors for Look South countries.

Mui: An MBDA Global Business Center client was part of the trip to Colombia – what was the client’s impact?

Hubbard: Inviting a Colombian-American client from Medellin proved invaluable as Mr. Silva was able to make key government and private sector introductions, particularly in the areas of construction, renewable energies and automotive supply chain in Colombia.

Mui: What were your key takeaways?

Hubbard: Our trip confirmed what most trade reports declare, that Colombia is open for business and the stigma of the drug cartels and vast conflict with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) are things of the past. The main challenges appear to deal with traffic snafus and the need for the Colombian government to continue its admirable commitment toward growing the middle class.

However, it must be noted that fluency in Spanish is essential to having success in Colombia. This applies not only to the obvious case of setting up a local facility, but also when engaging a market representative. It is important that a good knowledge of Spanish is available in-house in the United States operations.

Mui: Can you discuss on-the-ground resources available to help minority-owned firms?

Hubbard: We cannot emphasize enough the invaluable role the U.S. Commercial Service in Colombia plays in assisting MBDA clients get into the Colombian market. We met with senior commercial officer Cameron Werker, foreign commercial officer Aaron Held, and a Colombian national market specialist, all of whom were very helpful in sharing information and resources pertaining to helping U.S. companies successfully enter the Colombian market.

This was an excellent collaborative meeting in which we gained critical insight into the Colombian economy and political workings. We mutually agreed that after registering with the local United States Export Assistance Center in the United States, all minority business enterprise clients interested in doing business in Colombia would be promptly referred to U.S. Commercial Service in Colombia to obtain market intelligence and critical introductions to events and contacts.

All in all, we came away impressed with the seeming transparency and relative ease of starting up a company, pulling in on-the-ground resources in Colombia from both the U.S. Embassy, as well as local Colombian trade and investment vehicles.

Mui: What advice do you have for U.S. companies thinking about exporting?

Hubbard: For minority-owned firms who want to learn about global business, and believe your product or service can be sold abroad, your first stop should be an MBDA Business Center. Contact Orestes Hubbard, director of the MBDA San Antonio Business Center at orestes.hubbard@utsa.edu or 210-458-2480.

MBDA supports the Look South campaign with a successful business exploration trip to Colombia. As a result, more than $30 billion of global contract opportunities were identified in both private and public sectors. Additionally, the MBDA Global Business Center also identified key strategic partners, such as the American Chamber of Commerce and ProExport Colombia. We look forward to bringing you more insights from Colombia.

MBDA and ITA have pledged a memorandum of understanding through January, 2016 that provides assistance to minority companies to develop their export potential through increased awareness and use of existing ITA products and services; increase ITA and MBDA cooperation at the regional and district office/local level, especially in regard to export counseling and trade finance training for minority firms.

 

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The Look South Slice of the Export Pie Continues to Grow

May 29, 2014

John Larsen is the Deputy Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat.

The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.Department of Commerce data show that U.S. goods and services exports set a record for the fourth consecutive year, reaching $2.3 trillion in 2013.

U.S. companies that export to our 11 free trade agreement partner countries in Latin America played a major role in this success. Through the Look South campaign, federal trade-promotion agencies hope to help more companies find success by taking advantage of these free trade agreements.

In 2013, U.S. goods exports to Look South markets increased $12.5 billion to $312.6 billion – more than double the 1.7 percent rate of growth for goods exports to the rest of the world.

This isn’t just a blip; we see a clear growth trend as market liberalization, growing middle class consumption, and diversifying industrialization by Latin American markets fuels healthy economic growth and import demand.

As U.S. exporters respond, the Look South markets’ share of total U.S. goods exports has steadily grown from 17 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2013.

Here are some more interesting facts about our exports to free trade agreement partners in Latin America:

  • U.S. goods exports to Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Peru have increased every year since 2009;
  • Exports to Mexico grew by more than $10 billion – nearly 5 percent – in 2013;
  • U.S. 2013 goods exports to Mexico totaled $226 billion, exceeding combined U.S. exports to the BRICs countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa;
  • The $57 billion in combined U.S. exports to Chile, Colombia, Panama, and Peru would rank them as our 5th largest export market behind Japan and ahead of Germany; and,
  • The $29 billion in combined U.S. exports to the six remaining Look South markets – Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua — would rank them just behind France or Singapore.

We love talking about this data, but we love it more when we can help U.S. companies act on the data and find success!

The Look South website can help your business find the on-the-ground opportunities. You can also see market snapshots by industry with “Best Prospect Sectors.”

So Look South today to get your piece of the growing export pie!

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College Looks South for Students

May 11, 2014

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

Moshtayeen Ahmad recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

Like many other American higher education institutions, Michigan-based College for Creative Studies (CCS) has an important corps of foreign students contributing to the school’s cultural and educational experience.

Those international students are also making an important contribution to the American economy.

When a student comes to the United States from overseas to study, it is a service export. Foreign students accounted for $24.7 billion of U.S. exports in 2013.

At CCS, international students represent 6 percent of the student body and come from 17 different countries.

In an effort to recruit more qualified students from overseas, the International Trade Administration’s Michigan Export Assistant Center helped the College sign an agreement with Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico to foster both student and faculty exchanges between the schools.

This exchange supports more than just increased exports; it also supports cultural exchange between students of the United States and Mexico. These exchanges help further develop our overall relationship with other nations.

Thanks to their positive experience with this initial agreement, CCS has scheduled two additional Gold Key matchmaking services to find new potential partners in Mexico, and intends to recruit students from additional international markets.

Helping American exporters find new partners in Latin America is what the Department of Commerce’s Look South campaign is all about!

We want to help U.S. businesses, as well as colleges and universities, that are already exporting to Mexico to use their experience as a springboard to pursue other markets in the Latin American region.  The markets featured in the Look South campaign all have growing middle classes which increasingly desire high-quality American goods, including an American education.

Universities or educational institutions interested in developing partnerships or recruiting students from the region can find support from the International Trade Administration and our partner institutions.  Start by visiting www.export.gov/looksouth to learn more about the available resources and consider the many opportunities ahead.

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Florida Company Looks to Panama for Export Growth

April 21, 2014

Moshtayeen Ahmed recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

Mechanical equipment excavating a ravine.

Ambient Technologies is a U.S. exporter providing support in environmental and engineering fields.

Florida-based Ambient Technologies is one of many U.S. companies looking south and finding new business opportunities.

Ambient provides a number of support services to companies and government organizations in environmental and engineering-related fields, including drilling, surveying, and mapping. With operations in Florida, the Gulf Coast, Central America, and the Caribbean, the business is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities throughout Central America.

The Look South campaign is helping companies take advantage of abundant business opportunities that exist throughout Latin America. For Ambient, prime opportunities exist in Panama, where the company is supporting the Panama Canal expansion.

“Over the past few years, our work with the Panama Canal expansion has continued to drive our export sales—and we expect to see even more opportunity,” said Ambient President and CEO Carlos Lemos.

The growing economies of Latin America mean more opportunities for your business as well. U.S. free trade agreements in the region can also mean a simpler export process and lower costs of doing business.

“The United States has 11 free trade agreements in Latin America, which is one reason we’ve been encouraging so many Florida business to look at those markets,” said Sandra Campbell, director of the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Clearwater.

If you’re ready to explore opportunities for your business in Latin America, visit your nearest Export Assistance Center or export.gov/looksouth.

 

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ITA Helps Business Look South with Market Research

February 20, 2014

Laura Ebert is the Chile Desk Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

Before entering a new market, your business needs to be prepared. There are a number of market specific data you should understand to get an idea of your product’s potential success, including:

  • market size;
  • sophistication;
  • growth trends;
  • distribution channels; and,
  • regulatory considerations.

The problem is that market research can be time consuming and data on foreign markets can be confusing or difficult to find.

That’s where the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service comes in!

Our Commercial Service offers a number of resources to assist you and your business with conducting market research and due diligence in your target foreign market.

Our Market Research Library contains more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, written by our specialists working on the ground in each market.

Here you will also find the Country Commercial Guides, in-depth “how to do business” guides that provide a comprehensive look at the commercial environment in more than 80 overseas markets. The guides also highlight the top “best prospect” markets in each country for U.S. exporters.

As we focus on helping U.S. companies do business with our 11 free trade agreement partners in Latin America through the Look South initiative, we’ve now taken our Country Commercial Guides and made them easier to use than ever.

Want to know which Look South countries are top prospects for your product? Find out at a glance by visiting the Look South Best Prospect Sectors page and clicking on your industry. You’ll be able to see the list of most promising markets and download market snapshots for each country.

Already planning to target a specific country? Visit our Look South Countries page and choose your country from the list at the bottom of the page. Look for your industry among the best prospect sectors and download the market snapshot in just one click!

If you don’t see your industry or target market listed, don’t panic! There is very likely an opportunity for your product in more than one Look South country. Just contact your local Export Assistance Center for further information.

Other free resources include access to U.S. trade data and a series of events, webinars, and teleconferences that give you a chance to learn about new markets first hand or with on-the-ground experts. Check out the upcoming trade events and educational opportunities for Look South here.

In addition to these free public resources, your company can request more in-depth, tailored market research (for a fee) to answer your particular questions regarding the market for your product and services. We can also provide due diligence reports on potential overseas business partners (also for a fee) to investigate the capabilities, legitimacy, and financial strength of a potential overseas business partner.

Contact your local commercial service office to find out more about these services.

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Gold Key Matchmaking Service helps Indiana firm to “Look South”

February 7, 2014

Conner Moore recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

Even though the Look South initiative is just getting started companies like Indiana-based Escalade Sports are already looking south by using Mexico as a stepping stone to other Latin American markets. Escalade is an internationally known manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods brands. Back in 2005, National Account and International Sales Manager Marla Fredrich targeted sales to Mexico as a springboard to Latin America.

After teaming up with Dusan Marinkovic, a trade specialist with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service (CS) in Indiana, Escalade benefitted from export counseling and the CS Gold Key Matchmaking Service.

This service helps U.S. companies find potential overseas business opportunities by arranging business meetings with pre-screened contacts, representatives, distributors, professional associations, government contacts, and/or licensing or joint venture partners.

Through the Gold Key, Fredrich traveled to Mexico and met with pre-screened prospective business partners arranged by CS trade professionals at the U.S. Embassy.

As a result of ongoing CS assistance, Escalade made its first sale to Mexico and continues to increase its sales to the country. Having established a foothold in Mexico, Escalade has since looked south and started exporting to other parts of Latin America, including Colombia and the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement countries of El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

Fredrich is upbeat about the region, and sees a lot more opportunity.

“We are now reaping the fruits of our hard work in making new sales to world markets, and Latin America has become a key focus of our international business strategy,” she says. “There’s no doubt that learning the ins and outs of selling to Mexico and working with the Commercial Service gave us more confidence in expanding our sales to other parts of Latin America.”

Fredrich also said that Escalade’s involvement in exporting and international diversification has enabled it to weather the changes in the global economy, and to grow and become more internationally competitive. As a result, the company has been able to sustain and support many new jobs in the United States.

Whatever and wherever your business is, the International Trade Administration can help any company that is ready to start exporting, expand to new markets, and begin to “Look South.”

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Look South Campaign Focuses on U.S. Export Potential

February 5, 2014

Moshtayeen Ahmad recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

Favorable market trends in Latin America make the region an excellent potential market for your business’s products and services. These countries all enjoy open and regionally integrated economies and growing middle classes.

That’s why Commerce Secretary Pritzker is in Mexico on a business development mission – Mexico can be a great destination for your products and services, and a launching pad into more markets in the region.

The Department of Commerce’s Look South campaign is helping even more U.S. companies enter these markets and identify new opportunities in high demand industries.

Bilateral trade data shows that there is tremendous unmet potential for diversifying U.S. exports to Latin America. These countries are rapidly modernizing their industries and broadening their consumer base.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), there are many opportunities in sectors where U.S. goods and services are highly desired. Some are highlighted in our most recent Country Commercial Guides, including medical equipment, agricultural equipment, franchising, and environmental technologies. SMEs have the opportunity to become globally competitive in many of these industries, but often are the least likely to be aware of opportunities beyond Mexico.

The Look South campaign takes advantage of already existing resources like local U.S Export Assistance Centers and commercial experts in each Look South market. Services include assistance in picking the right market for your business, getting your goods ready to ship, and understanding regulations in each country. Businesses can attend trade events that bring U.S. companies and foreign buyers together to expand on opportunities. The U.S. Commercial Service also offers guidance on trade financing assistance.

To get more detailed information on the best prospects and market intelligence for each sector in the Look South countries, visit our website.

You can also visit the Market Research Library (MRL) for a complete collection of all our market research, including our Country Commercial Guides, Best Market Reports and Market Research Reports.

Our team is standing by to help your business find success in Latin America. Find out how we can help!

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