Archive for the ‘Strategic Partners’ Category

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Plugging Into the Global Marketplace

July 31, 2014

Anne Grey is the Executive Director of  the International Trade Administration’s Trade Programs and Strategic Partnerships. Bob McEntire is the Acting Director of ITA’s Office of Strategic Partnerships.

eBay CEO John Donahoe and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker formalized a strategic partnership between ITA and eBay in February 2014, agreeing to cooperate to support U.S. exporters.

eBay CEO John Donahoe and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker formalized a strategic partnership between ITA and eBay in February 2014, agreeing to cooperate to support U.S. exporters.

Taking your business online can be a daunting task. Exporting to global markets online can be even scarier.

In a recent International Trade Administration (ITA) webinar, Melissa O’Malley, Paypal’s director of global merchant and cross border trade initiatives, said that although it may be intimidating, the benefits are exponential. Note: We will upload a recording of this webinar as soon as possible.

With the rise of Internet connected devices, more people around the world are plugging in and shopping online, and when it comes to online shopping, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent for goods to be purchased and shipped across borders.

O’Malley has found that people are driven online for cross-border shopping for two reasons:

  1. There is often more variety available online, and
  2. It’s often cheaper for consumers to shop online.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are two days that have changed the ways Americans make their purchases. But “holidays” like these happen all over the world and are amazing opportunities for businesses to market their products. Here are some examples:

  • Singles Day. A Chinese holiday celebrating, you guessed it, the singles of the world. It happens every year on 11/11, representing the 1 person in your life that really matters, and every year people go crazy for shopping. In fact, Singles Day is the world’s biggest annual shopping day, dwarfing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2013 $8.2 billion was spent in a 24-hour period. That’s a lot of new clothes.
  • Boxing Day. This is the day after Christmas in the UK, Australia, and Canada. In 2013, 9.8 million people shopped and $3.6 billion was spent. With 17 million hours spent online shopping, Boxing Day is the biggest online shopping day ever in the UK.
  • Lover’s Day or Dia dos Namaorados. The Brazilian version of Valentine’s Day takes place on June 12th and the cross-border online shopping is due to grow 546% in the next 4 years. That means about $8.4 billion to be spent in 2018. The U.S. is the main market for Brazilian goods bought online and this market continues to grow.

International Trade Specialist Doug Barry says that businesses using digital tools including social media and websites tend to be more successful.

This webinar was part of a larger strategic partnership between ITA and Paypal’s parent company, eBay. ITA works with all of its strategic partners to help more businesses learn about support available to help any business compete and win in the global marketplace.

We are excited to work with eBay to help more businesses export through digital channels.

ITA’s Commercial Service team is a worldwide network of experts who strive to help companies expand their reach and build their businesses. Contact your local export assistance center to find out how you can start exporting.

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The Global Appeal of Alabama’s Southern Charm

May 19, 2014

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

Robert Stackpole is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Birmingham, Ala.

Alabama Department of Commerce SealIn a business sense, Alabama can’t be pointed out in one location on a map. As the Alabama Department of Commerce is proud to point out, Alabama is everywhere.

Our Southern state is a global leader, exporting goods to about 200 foreign markets and attracting international business investment in high tech industries like aviation and automobile manufacturing. Our exports are up more than 50 percent since 2009, reaching $19.3 billion in 2013. Our transportation equipment exports have more than doubled in that time frame, reaching $8.3 billion.

There are plenty of reasons why Alabama is helping lead the way in global business. My favorite reason is this: teamwork.

The Export Alabama Alliance is a coalition of state and federal agencies, trade associations, and private organizations that have one mission in mind: helping Alabama grow through trade. We work hand-in-hand to support Alabama’s manufacturers, chemical companies, agriculture producers, and any other business looking to succeed in international markets.

We work with the ports for shipping intelligence, we contact our specialists overseas to understand market regulations, and we keep in touch with the chambers of commerce to understand the needs of Alabama’s businesses.

It’s an extraordinary level of cooperation, and it’s working. Of the eight companies recognized by Governor Bentley this year for export excellence, every one of them worked with the Alliance on some aspect of their international business plan.

As Alabama recognizes World Trade Week this week, we’re excited to celebrate the successes of our exporters and our subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies. We’ll toast to the thousands of jobs supported by global business throughout the state.

We’re also looking forward to bringing more of our small businesses into the global marketplace. If you’re ready to get started, we’re here to help!

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Cash Flow Strategies to Make Your Exports More Competitive

May 13, 2014

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

Jonathan Rees is the Managing Director of Western Union Business Solutions in North America. Western Union Business Solutions is an International Trade Administration Strategic Partner.

U.S. exports have increased dramatically since 2009 but have begun to plateau since 2013.A healthy U.S. economy includes strong exports. In an age of ever-increasing global trade, these exports indicate the demand for U.S. products and services, particularly in countries with an expanding middle class.Since 2010, the government has committed to help U.S. businesses find buyers worldwide, win more contracts, and learn new ways to sell products and services overseas. This commitment highlights the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in propelling the American economy.

However, after a sharp appreciation, over the last two years U.S. exports have been showing signs of hitting a plateau.

The good news is this: U.S. exports have abundant room to grow. In fact, compared to other industrialized countries, there are signs that the United States is only beginning to tap into its export potential.

According to the World Bank, exports accounted for only 14 percent of the U.S. GDP in 2012, while other Western industrialized nations, such as Germany, the United Kingdom and France, export between 30 to 52 percent of their GDPs. According to the  U.S. Small Business Administration, SMEs in the United States generate more than 46 percent of the country’s nonfarm private gross domestic product. They also comprise 98 percent of America’s exporters and produce 33 percent of all export value – clear drivers of economic growth.

So what can American SMEs do to expand this export potential? Simply put, make it easy for the buyer.

Successful exporters try to make their goods and services as attractive as possible, regardless of the buyer’s location. American exporters can take some easy steps to do this and protect profits at the same time. By using the right combination of payment and cash management strategies,  SMEs can improve their cash flow and increase overseas demand.

Here are three tips to help:

  1. Plan ahead and create a cross-border payment strategy that supports your company’s cash flow while hedging foreign exchange risk. Most foreign buyers generally prefer to trade in their local currencies to avoid foreign exchange (FX) exposure.  As such, selling in foreign currencies can be a viable option for SMEs who wish to enter and remain competitive in global markets.   It’s important for SMEs to take a critical look at their business needs and build a cross-border payment strategy that can hedge FX risk. Find a partner that can help you determine what your cross-border payment needs are and set your actions accordingly.  One of the possible solutions to hedge FX risk is a forward contract, which enables the exporter to sell at a set amount of foreign currency at a pre-agreed exchange rate with a delivery date from three days to one year into the future.  Forward contracts can be ideal for protecting against FX fluctuations and are useful for budgeting.
  2. Use a budgeting tool that gives visibility to FX exposures and simplify foreign accounts payable. If you are doing business in multiple countries and receiving payment in multiple currencies and from different time zones, it’s helpful to use a payment solution product that will help you keep track of your invoices. Some providers also offer budgeting products that automatically calculate total currency exposure for multiple invoices. This allows businesses to use a single platform to track cross-border incoming and outgoing cash flows so that businesses can make more informed decisions.  Such international budgeting and cash management products are offered by many reputable global financial services firms, including Western Union Business Solutions.
  3. Settle invoices with overseas vendors in their local currency. Setting prices in vendors’ local currency as a practice hasn’t been widely adopted in the  United States., but it’s worth considering. If your company does a high volume of trade in a certain country or currency, it makes sense to bill your customers in that currency. Overseas vendors often charge extra fees for paying companies in U.S. dollars in order to mitigate against currency risk. For example, research from Western Union Business Solutions shows that one in five Chinese suppliers adds roughly 3-4 per-cent to  U.S. dollar invoices to cover FX fluctuations. Making deals with overseas vendors using their local currency also gives business owners the opportunity to negotiate a discount.

This last step represents a simple change in foreign exchange strategy that can send a signal that you, the exporter, understand your overseas customers and want to make it easy for them to do business with you. It is just a matter of thinking about what the customer wants and acting on it – a good strategy for any business.

To learn more about how to manage FX risk and how to export in foreign currencies, you may wish to read the U.S. Commerce Department’s Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters.

Happy World Trade Month!

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Partnering to Continue U.S. Export Growth in China

May 7, 2014

Eric Wolff is the Deputy Principal Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai.

Ken Jarrett and Judy Reinke sign the Memorandum of Understanding at the Department of Commerce.

AmCham Shanghai President Ken Jarrett and Deputy Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke sign the Memorandum of Agreement at the Department of Commerce.

When you are speaking for American businesses in East China, it’s great to have a good set of partners by your side.

That’s why it’s so important that the International Trade Administration (ITA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the American Chamber of Commerce—Shanghai. Our teams will cooperate on initiatives to help American businesses succeed in East China, one of the hubs of the country’s growing economy.

We will share resources to help American companies find the most qualified partners in the region and make sure that U.S. business leaders know about every important opportunity to do business here. We’ll also work together to support Chinese investors looking for investment opportunities in the United States.

American business leaders have long known that East China represents an outstanding business market for U.S. companies, which is why AmCham Shanghai was one of the first AmChams founded outside the United States.

As we sign this agreement, China is a more promising market than ever.

U.S. exports to the country have increased by more than 75 percent since 2009, reaching a record $122 billion in 2013. The growing middle class has helped create a remarkable increase in U.S. auto exports to China.

The signatures make it official!   The Memorandum of Agreement between ITA and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai formalizes our cooperative efforts supporting U.S. businesses in East China.

The Memorandum of Agreement formalizes the partnership between the International Trade Administration and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

Actually, transportation equipment exports overall have risen dramatically in recent history, along with sectors like chemicals and wood products.

Signs point to this trend of growth continuing. China’s economy continues to grow, and consumers around the country continue to seek out high quality, American goods.

Factor in the U.S. government’s continued emphasis on supporting American companies here, demonstrated by ITA’s opening of a new office in Wuhan and an increase in personnel throughout the country, and you have a recipe for a bright future of economic opportunity.

I very much look forward to the partnership between AmCham Shanghai and ITA, and I know that working together, we will really see some great success stories.

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Alabama Celebrates Export Success

March 6, 2014
Made In Alabama logo

ITA is proud to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce to support state exporters.

Robert Stackpole is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Yesterday was a big day for the State of Alabama, one that recognized a great year for state businesses and exporters.

At a ceremony at the State Capitol, Gov. Robert Bentley recognized eight Alabama companies that are setting a very high standard for Alabama companies that are competing – and succeeding – in the global marketplace. These businesses are exporting everything from audio/video equipment to machinery that helps install decorative lighting.

These exporters prove every day that Made in Alabama products are some of the most innovative, highest quality products in the world. They’re showing that exporting is possible for businesses of any size.

Engaging in the global marketplace is an excellent way for your company to increase sales, find more customers, and protect against an economic downturn.

If your business is ready to start finding and competing in new markets, the Export Alabama Alliance is here to support! Our team at the Birmingham Export Assistance Center is proud to be a part of that Alliance and to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce.

We are honored to have helped all eight of the businesses recognized yesterday to increase their exports, and we are ready, willing, and able to support your business going global.

You can learn more about yesterday’s celebration and the companies that were recognized on the Alabama Department of Commerce website.

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One Shining BEAM of Export Cooperation

February 14, 2014

Kentucky Mayors Greg Fischer of Louisville and Jim Gray of Lexington launched the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) in 2011. This initiative brings together the 22 counties that include and surround these cities through a strategic partnership, implementing a regional economic development approach for the state’s two largest metropolitan areas.

In 2012, the Mayors followed BEAM with the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years. This focus on exporting is a key aspect of BEAM’s broader goal to promote growth among the region’s businesses.

BEAM is unique among regional export promotion programs in that it is a collaborative effort between two leaders. The mayors’ approach exemplifies their belief that sharing economic growth rather than competing for it, is the best way to build the future for the region.

Research shows that exporting firms – whether in manufacturing or services – grow faster and can afford to pay their workers better than non-exporting firms. By promoting exports, Mayors Fischer and Gray are taking a key step to support better jobs and stronger growth in the region.

Kentucky is already a leader among states in exporting. It is one of 16 states to have broken its own merchandise export record in 2013, having exported more than $25 billion in goods during the year.

Mayors Fischer and Gray were kind enough to answer a few questions about the initiative:

ITA: What role do exports play in the economies of Louisville and Lexington, and in Kentucky overall?

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Louisville, Ky. Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor Fischer: Exports play a critical role in our regional and state economy. Exports throughout our state have surged to all-time highs. We have large companies that are robust exporters such as Ford, Lexmark, and Yum! Brands that sell into markets throughout the world.

However, 90 percent of Kentucky’s exporters are small to mid-sized firms. In total, the BEAM region produced $14.8 billion in exports in 2012, which is a five percent increase from 2011. Our regional exports perform strongly as a percentage of Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP), accounting for 16 percent of GMP in 2012.

We’re ahead of the national average, as U.S. exports in 2012 accounted for 13 percent of national Gross Domestic Product. We’re very pleased with our progress and expect more great results ahead.

ITA: One goal of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement is to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years, measured by the number of companies that expand to new foreign markets or begin selling out of the U.S for the first time. What effects will that kind of expansion have in your cities?

Mayor Gray: Kentucky is primarily made up of small businesses. Many of these companies could be expanding their sales internationally. Two-thirds of Kentucky’s companies have fewer than 20 employees, many of which could be exporting but aren’t or could be exporting to more markets.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington, Ky. Mayor Jim Gray

Our “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” export initiative focuses primarily on small business export expansion. Through this initiative a team has worked with trade partners to conduct effective outreach to a target list of smaller companies, selected for exportability, headquartered location in Kentucky and size. We want these small businesses to know about the locally available trade resources to assist their export needs.

Our team has been able to connect companies to trade education resources, market research opportunities, and information about trade missions and trade shows.

Recently, we announced a $200,000 award from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to create the BEAM-Kentucky Export Promotion program. This one-of-a-kind initiative supports small businesses by providing them financial support to access export and business development resources to expand international sales. You can read more about this work here: http://bit.ly/KyBEAM

ITA: Export expansion has been a major priority under the National Export Initiative. How do initiatives like BEAM translate into national export expansion and improvement in the overall economy?

Mayor Fischer: The National Export Initiative was an inspiration to stakeholders around the country. It set a big goal and inspired many of us to step up our game.

New research has revealed compelling evidence about exports at the metro level. We all know that metro governments are positioned in the new economy to play a pivotal role in fostering innovation, economic development and driving sustainable practices. Metro areas dominate exports at the state level, generating more than 90 percent of exports in 11 states. The BEAM region counts for 53% of the state’s total exports. Here in Kentucky, our Governor organized early following the launch of the NEI to form the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI). The KEI has brought together the state’s leading trade organizations to streamline support for companies  throughout the state. Once the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI) was formed, Mayor Gray and I worked to get added to the cohort of cities working with the Brookings Institution. The MEI afforded us new data tools and a guide on how to develop an export plan suited to our regional goals and pursuits.

All of these initiatives have helped our region and state come together to effectively address problems that have affected businesses. As organizations have worked together to make their resources maximally effective, businesses have received streamlined and accessible support.

ITA: How are other officials throughout the state helping? State officials, local leaders, etc?

Mayor Gray: By partnering with our local U.S. Commercial Service offices in Louisville and Lexington, the World Trade Center Kentucky, our state and regional chambers, along with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Small Business Development Centers, we have received great support from officials and many other organizations throughout Kentucky. Staff for the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative have worked with trade partners to host export educational seminars for chamber and economic development professionals. Outreach has been conducted to businesses around the BEAM region, an effort supported by partners at the local, state and federal levels. This is a collaborative effort and we feel the importance of working with all involved every day.

ITA: What do you say to Kentucky business leaders who aren’t currently exporting?

Mayor Fischer: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “If you’re a small business that isn’t exporting but your competitors are, they are going to eat your lunch.” We operate in a global economy. Exporting is the expectation.

In our region, while we’re known for specializations in bourbon and equine, we also export mattresses, security locks, dental equipment, disco balls and ceiling fans; and more than a few cars and home appliances.

About 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and more than 80 percent of growth is happening outside Europe or North America. If your company wants to be in business ten, twenty years from now, you’re best positioned by having sales in foreign markets. The world is waiting for you.

ITA: Mayors around the country are working hard to support local and regional economies. What’s your advice to them?

Mayor Gray: Invest in small business growth opportunities. Focus on growing what you have in your region and expanding opportunities through intentional and strategic, cross functionally aligned initiatives. Look at models for success. Learn from Mayors and other elected officials who are doing things that work around the country. Spend time with national thought leaders. And set big but realistic goals that are measurable and inclusive.

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College Teachers Take Export 101

October 25, 2013

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. 

Business instructors from community colleges in 18 states attended MSU's business education program in June 2013.

Business instructors from community colleges in 18 states attended MSU’s most recent business education program in June 2013.

Educators at Michigan State University are leading a program to help community colleges increase their coverage of international business.

MSU’s International Business Center (CIBER) is bringing community college business instructors back to school to help them learn the best ways to develop new classes or expand on the subject.

The International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service is proud to partner on the initiative, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education.

CIBER uses ITA’s Basic Guide to Exporting to teach these instructors the basics of international business. An accompanying online portion provides slide shows and narratives that augment the text.

These tools aim to help teachers become comfortable with an important topic – doing business overseas – and give them a starting point for developing their own courses.

Community colleges may be overlooked in international business education, but these schools are great tools for helping drive export success.

“A lot of small business leaders seek additional skills by attending night classes at their local college,” said Thomas Hult, director of the CIBER program at Michigan State. The skills developed at community colleges can translate to success in the global marketplace.

Studies show international business is becoming a more common subject in community colleges. About 51 percent of community colleges offered courses in international business in 2008; four years later, it was 81 percent.

The course followed the International Trade Administration's Basic Guide to Exporting, which covers everything from global marketing plans to international business travel.

The course followed the International Trade Administration’s Basic Guide to Exporting, which covers everything from global marketing plans to international business travel.

Diane Hargens of Western Iowa Tech Community College is sharing the lessons she learned at an event with her faculty colleagues.

“I will be showing them the resources that we talked about and asking each of them to incorporate international concepts into their classes,” she said.

Partnerships like these help ITA inform more business leaders about the process and benefits of exporting.

You can learn more about the CIBER program from Michigan State’s Broad School. Students interested in attending community college can find information at the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

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