Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

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U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Texas Oil Company Started Doing Business in Cameroon and Morocco

July 23, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

The geographic distance between Texas-based Arnold Oil Company and Sub-Saharan Africa may be thousands of miles, but their economic relationship has never been closer. U.S. businesses like the Arnold Oil Company are increasingly finding economic opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa: between 2001 to 2012, U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from $6.9 billion to $22.5 billion dollars. Africa is now home to six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world, leading President Obama to call sub-Saharan Africa the “world’s next major economic success story.” That is why the Department of Commerce is working to facilitate and advocate for American businesses in this growing region, and U.S. firms are eager to help unlock even more of Africa’s economic potential.

A family-owned supplier of automotive and oil lubricant products, the Arnold Oil Company became interested in expanding its business abroad. They met with the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Austin to request assistance in developing an exporting and marketing plan for their products. After creating a plan that satisfied the company, the USEAC arranged for a meeting with a representative from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to assist the Arnold Oil Company with financing its exports.

But the USEAC took its assistance one step further, introducing the Arnold Oil Company to a buyer in Cameroon, who eventually was signed as a distributer. As a result of this relationship, the Arnold Oil Company was able to ship their first exports of oil lubricants to Morocco, generating revenue of more than $24,000 in 2013. With assistance from the USEAC, the Arnold Oil Company was able to expand its business into one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world.

In 2012, the Commerce Department launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign to help U.S. businesses, like the Arnold Oil Company, take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the campaign, Commerce has expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa and dedicated an online Africa business portal to direct businesses to federal resources. In addition, on August 5, the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies will co-host the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on strengthening trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa.  The Forum will be attended by President Obama, Secretary Pritzker, Mayor Bloomberg, and other senior U.S. government officials. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa and seek to create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment. These efforts are helping American businesses expand and enter the global market for the first time, and the Department of Commerce remains committed to helping create more exporting success stories.

Businesses interested in learning more about the benefits of exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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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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New Expansion to Support New Opportunities

April 29, 2014

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

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

Arun Kumar

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Last week, Commerce Secretary Pritzker made an important announcement that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting developing economies and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to U.S. businesses competing overseas.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will open offices in five new markets, bringing Foreign Commercial Service (CS) officers into some of the world’s most rapidly developing economies. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department, we will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burma this calendar year.

These new offices, and our staff additions in other offices around the world, will make us more capable of supporting U.S. exporters. We can support more Gold Key Matchmaking, we can conduct more market research, and we can help connect U.S. companies to more global markets.

As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I’m very excited to be a part of this major expansion – especially in such important markets for U.S. businesses.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. The International Monetary Fund predicts continued growth throughout the continent, as part of a broad continental economic transformation.

Our new offices will support White House initiatives like Trade Africa and Power Africa, which have spearheaded a larger campaign to bolster development throughout the continent.

As U.S. companies look to ship goods to Africa, help increase electrical capacity, or help improve transportation networks, they will receive unparalleled assistance and expertise from our staff. With our new offices on the continent, we will be able to find partners for American companies, help navigate regulatory hurdles, and support the development that will make Africa thrive.

Our team in Thailand is already assisting American companies doing business in Burma, and our new office in Rangoon is a symbol of the importance of this market and of America’s commitment to Burmese reform, growth, and increased openness. We know that the Burmese people see U.S. goods as being of high quality, and the nation’s businesses are looking to get involved with American companies.

As this expansion takes place, these markets are where we will truly see the mutual benefits of trade.

As U.S. companies find more opportunities in these growing economies, they will bring the infrastructure and ideas that improves quality of life for citizens and they will support the partnerships that spur innovation among local businesses.

This announcement is just the start. I’m very excited to see how this expansion will help support existing partnerships, create new opportunities, and bring about the kind of development that is only possible through global trade.

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Helping Feed the World Through Exports

September 13, 2013

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

Zeigler Bros, Inc. (Zeigler), founded by brothers Ty and Leroy Zeigler, started as a local producer of poultry and livestock feed for farmers in the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, area in 1935. Leroy’s son, Tom, took over and changed the company’s direction to focus on research and development of specialty animal foods and aquatic diets. Today, the company continues to develop new and innovative technologies and manufactures more than 300 products, including at two facilities in Pennsylvania, and exports their goods to between 40 and 50 countries each year.

Zeigler has worked closely with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to support its export growth, and is a 2013 recipient of the Presidential E-Award for Export Excellence, the highest government honor for increasing exports. Doug Barry, a Senior International Trade Specialist in ITA’s Global Knowledge Center, spoke with Zeigler’s international sales manager Chris Stock about the business and its exporting success.

Barry: Tell us about the business and what you produce.

Stock: We’re a manufacturer of specialty animal feeds. Our focus is aquaculture feeds, specifically for fish shrimp farms. We also do feeds for pet exotic animals. And we’re also involved with the biomedical research industry, helping provide specialty diets for the animals that serve as health models in research.

Barry: You’re not a Zeigler Brother. What’s your position with the company?

Stock: I manage the sales of the company in Asia. But I strictly focus on the aquaculture area, which is where a lot of our attention and efforts are involved. I’m only involved with export; I don’t do any domestic business. My eyes are overseas.

Barry: How long have you been exporting?

Stock: Zeigler’s been exporting for quite a while. It’s very ingrained in the company culture, which is a great reason for our success. In the mid ’80s is probably about the time it started. And our involvement with the aquaculture industry really helped pull us and propel us into export, because aquaculture is a very international business, and it happens more outside the U.S. than inside the U.S.

Barry: Tell us about the extent of your exports and how they contribute to the company’s success?

Stock: Exports have expanded rapidly, especially in the last handful of years. They now encompass a majority of our business, slightly over 50 percent. We’re exporting to between 40 and 50 different countries every year. Last count was 43; some come and go. But it’s a huge part of our business and it’s where we see the most growth opportunity. If we want to grow our business, it’s going to be through overseas markets.

We certainly have business in the U.S. and that’s important to us, but the U.S. market won’t be growing at the rate that the international markets are.

Barry: What markets are you focusing on, going forward?

Stock: Areas of interest most specifically are Africa and Southeast Asia. There are a number of countries in these areas – West Africa is a hotspot for us, specifically Nigeria and Ghana. Then in Southeast Asia, we look at Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Thailand, some of these countries.

Barry: What is attractive to you about Africa?

Stock: Africa is on the cusp, I think. A lot of people see the opportunity, so it’s a great time to get in early, because it’s a huge emerging middle class that’s developing there with spending power. They need things more than any other part of the world. They have a lack of access to some of the higher-tech products and things that the U.S. can offer.

And there’s reason to take it slow when entering Africa and be cautious, but the opportunity outweighs the risk, there’s no doubt about that.

Barry: And do you think that Zeigler is a better company because of exporting, and if so, in what ways?

Stock: Absolutely. It diversifies the company, allows us to be insulated from issues in one market or another. Our business is subject to seasonality as well, and it has reduced the impact of seasonality on our manufacturing. And it just connects us throughout the world. The Zeigler brand is known in our industry throughout the world, and that’s a tremendous privilege.

And it challenges us. We are able to take opportunities and things we learn in one country and apply them elsewhere. So we’re always learning and one of the great parts about our job is we’re connecting people throughout the world and bringing ideas from one place to the other, whether or not they directly impact our product.

Barry: And what about the U.S. government? What has it done for you?

Stock: The Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce is kind of a go-to for us when we run into issues. There’s always something popping up. When you export to 40 to 50 countries a year, there’s going to be something at any given point on your plate. And so it’s a common go-to kind of hub for us.

In general, we come to them when we have export regulatory issues and we need somebody inside the government to guide us. That’s a big thing about exporting is knowing that you don’t know it all and you’re always going to need support. The government has helped bring us into new markets. We went on a trade mission to Ghana when we were getting our Africa business warmed up and met people there that are clients now and important partners.

Barry: Advice for other U.S. exporters or for companies considering it?

Stock: It’s a no-brainer. You should be exporting. If you’re not, start learning about it, talk to other exporters and just go for it. I think the key things to exporting are persistence and patience.

You have to realize that when you get in this, it may not be immediate sales, it may take years, but you have to have the long-term vision. If you’re willing to go through a couple of ups and downs, it can pay off in dividends. If you don’t enter the export market, you’re limiting your sales in a big way, no doubt about it.

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Discover What’s Next for Your Business at the Discover Forum

August 22, 2013

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

Shirreef Loza and Frances Selema are Senior International Trade Specialists with the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Raleigh, NC.

The Discover Forum will be held in Raleigh, NC, from Sept. 16-18.

There are plenty of questions for a small business looking to start exporting. What markets are best suited for your company’s products? How can you compete with larger companies? How can you get paid for your products? What kind of research do you need to do to begin exporting?

Luckily, you can get answers to all these questions and more at the 2013 Discover Global Forum in Raleigh, NC, Sept. 16-18.

This two-day summit will feature some of the world’s most knowledgeable people when it comes to exporting. Trade specialists from around the globe will be on hand to share inside tips about doing business in established and emerging markets, from Africa to Asia and the Middle East to South America.

Update: Check out a video about the Discover Forum 2013.

These specialists work every day in some of the world’s fastest growing economies – markets with consumers who are actively seeking the made-in-USA label. They know the best ways to bring your products to customers around the world.

The Discover Forum is the perfect opportunity for any U.S. business looking to begin exporting or to expand exports.

There’s no question that exporting is a great way to grow just about any business. It can protect your company from fluctuations in a single regional or national economy. It can expand your customer base, increasing sales and profits. It can also help create jobs in your town and boost the local economy.

We’ve shared several stories recently about just a fraction of the companies who have experienced new levels of success because of exporting.

Your company could be the next success story.

We at the International Trade Administration are proud to partner with the North Carolina District Export Council and other organizations to host the Discover Forum because exports are crucial to supporting the American economic recovery. Exports support millions of jobs, and that leads to greater prosperity here at home.

If your business is ready to start or increase exporting, register now for the Discover Forum. You can also follow the Forum on Twitter or contact us for more information.

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Why is Everyone Talking About Africa?

August 5, 2013

Claudia Easton is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of the National Export Initiative and Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee. She’s studying Economics and Political Science at Amherst College.

With the President’s recent trip to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as the announcement of two new trade initiatives, the spotlight is on Africa – and with good reason.

While speaking at the Business Leaders Forum in Tanzania, President Obama spoke of beginning a new level of economic engagement with Africa. The Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) is part of the president’s strategy, and the International Trade Administration (ITA) is proud to join other government agencies to support  DBIA initiatives that are helping U.S. businesses compete on the continent.

Trade Africa aims to facilitate expanded trade on the continent. Its initial focus will be on the East African Community (EAC), a market with increasingly stable and pro-business regulations. The plan will support increased U.S.-EAC trade and investment, EAC trade competitiveness, and regional integration. The United States seeks to expand this initiative to other regional economic communities on the continent.

Power Africa is intended to build on Africa’s enormous power potential to expand electricity access to the more than two-thirds of the population that is without power. The President pledged $7 billion in U.S. government support, in addition to $9 billion in private money, over the next five years to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa will help attract investment in Africa’s energy sector, build capacity for reform in the energy sector, and encourage transparent and responsible natural resource management.

ITA partnered with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to share information about the Power Africa initiative in a Twitter chat in July.

These initiatives will rely heavily on public-private partnerships to succeed. We’re glad to have an excellent partner in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who invited Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez and other government leaders to speak with businesses about support available under DBIA.

We’ve also highlighted stories of how a heavy machinery exporter and an environmental and energy company have seen recent success on the continent, with help from ITA.

The bottom line is this: Africa is open for business. And with the weight of the president and the administration behind these initiatives, there has never been a better time for U.S. companies of all sizes to take advantage of the enormous opportunities on the continent.

If your business is ready to make Africa a priority, your local U.S. Export Assistance Center can help connect you with federal resources and more information about specific opportunities.

For more information on Doing Business in Africa campaign, please see additional links below:

Doing Business in Africa Campaign:

Main Campaign Page

DBIA Updates on the ITA Blog

Remarks by Under Secretary of International Trade Francisco Sánchez to U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum

Power Africa:

FACT SHEET: Power Africa

Blog: Powering Africa

Remarks by President Obama at Ubungo Symbion Power Plant

#Power4All on Twitter

Trade Africa:

FACT SHEET: Trade Africa

Remarks by President Obama at Business Leaders Forum (Trade Africa)

Video of President Obama Speaking at A Business Leaders Forum in Tanzania

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How a Career Change Led to a Successful Export Business in Africa

June 21, 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.

HERO Florida President Leslie Smith (right) stands in a gold mine in Ghana with his son, HERO Vice President Carlton Smith.

HERO Florida President Leslie Smith (right) stands in a gold mine in Ghana with his son, HERO Vice President Carlton Smith.

Perpetually suntanned and jovial, Leslie Smith operated a successful commercial landscaping business for several decades.

Then one day, he read an item in a local newsletter that caught his fancy. It was about exporting and how to do it.

Four years later, he was in Washington, DC to accept a presidential award for excellence in exporting. Leslie and his company, HERO Florida, export heavy machinery and spare parts to multiple markets in Africa, South America and Central America.

Here are some excerpts from a discussion I had with Leslie while he was in Washington:

Barry: How did you get started in exporting?

Smith: My son and I went to Export 101 put on by the Jacksonville, Fla. Port; the Chamber of Commerce; and the Department of Commerce.

We took the knowledge from the course there and applied it to mining equipment, which is what we were interested in and believed we could make a business out of. So we went to Las Vegas to the big mining show that happens every four years.

We decided to have a reception and invited all the commercial specialists from our embassies who were there with delegates from their countries. The delegates were buyers representing mining companies from around the world. And to our surprise 200 or 300 showed up, so it was really nice. And so we made a deal with an outfit there in Ghana and sold some equipment. And so that’s how we got started in the African market.

Barry: Why did you decide to go to the export course in the first place? You had a good business.

Smith: I don’t know. I just thought it was interesting. I read it in a business journal and I called my son into the office. “Carlton, this course on exporting, it looks interesting.” I always wanted to do something like that. I just thought it would be an opportunity to travel and spend time with my son who is also my business partner.

Barry: How many countries are you in now?

Smith: We’re in a bunch. I think probably 10, including Ghana, Nigeria on the west side, and then lots of South Africa – Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia. Gosh, lots in that region.

Barry: Were you concerned about the risks of doing business in some parts of Africa?

Smith: Yeah, we really were. When we started we could do nothing more than cash and carry. People are not going to be able to open letters of credit and so forth, so it has to be cash and carry. And a lot of times they just don’t have the cash. So as things have progressed we’ve got help from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and we’re able to finance companies once they’re checked out through Ex-Im. So now we’re able to give companies terms.

Barry: In addition to Ex-Im Bank, did you get help from other government agencies and programs?

Smith: The Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the state of Florida through Enterprise Florida, those guys are great. I mean, they’re constantly – constantly bringing people to our office and trying to marry us with other people and inviting us to go on trade missions, and really doing their job. And if you’ve got a question, that’s where the support from the Commerce Department really comes in, because you can ask that question. And I would advise anyone that decides to get into the exporting business to use those resources because that’s what they’re there for.

Barry: So one aspect of the help you received was the International Buyer Program show in Las Vegas?

Smith: It’s the Mine Expo that only happens every four years. It’s the biggest in the world. The U.S. Commercial Service brings buyer delegations from many different countries that have mining equipment needs. In 2008, they had brought delegations from – I mean, you name the country; they were there. So it was fortunate for us.

Barry: What advice do you have for companies that aren’t exporting now?

Smith: It’s the American dream. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit. You go out there and you get it. I’ve always been in my own business, so it’s a lot of fun. And then I think my son thinks the same way, and his friends. If you want to travel and you want to do something exciting –I would take as many classes and talk to as many people like me as I could before I just jumped off the cliff. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of money and not go anywhere.

You need to do your homework. You need to use all the resources that the Commerce Department has to offer, because they have a lot. A lot. And maybe start out slow and go on some of these (Commerce Department or state government) trade missions and do it like that. And number one, have a good product—one that sells.

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