Jim Bledsoe is an International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service in Little Rock, Arkansas
A business client named Max recently contacted me to ask some general exporting questions pertaining to a few specific markets. It soon occurred to me that a lot of what he was asking about was readily available in our agency’s Country Commercial Guides (CCG), which are posted online for free here. I asked Max if he had ever used a CCG or even heard of them, which led to the following conversation.
Max: What is a CCG, and why do I, as a U.S. business, care?
Jim: A CCG is a guide prepared by boots-on-the ground trade and economic professionals at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad that highlights specific country market conditions. While similar to the CIA World Fact book in concept, the nature of the CCGs is geared more towards giving you market insights so you can sell your product or service in that country.
Max: I see. A lot of what I’ve found out there on the Internet hasn’t really helped me narrow down the field for potential markets to sell in. So these CCGs then are more useful—how so?
Jim: There are currently CCGs covering 123 markets. These Guides have the latest on high-demand industry sectors, as well as market-by-market economic overviews, selling techniques, investment climate considerations, trade financing options, and business travel advice and resources. U.S. companies can also find opportunities not only in popular markets, but also in many other less crowded markets. In our earlier conversation, you had asked about the Korea market, so let’s take a closer look. We have a great group of trade professionals that I work with who write about specific areas like Agriculture, or the Defense Industry. Basically, you are getting current market conditions from people—U.S. Federal Employees—who live and work in the respective markets of the CCG they write.
Max: How do I use this CCG to get my Defense Industry in Korea-related market information?
Jim: The easiest and most efficient way to capitalize on the valuable market information contained within the CCGs is to contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC). So right here by calling me, you are already doing it the easy way! But seriously, anyone can contact their local USEAC where an International Trade Specialist can help identify and winnow down potential markets, work with you to develop an export strategy, and help explore options for business to business matchmaking
Max: What if I just wanted to do some looking myself? I would hate to bother you with this….
Jim: It is no bother at all—this is what I do and am happy to help! However, if you wish to do further research into the markets yourself, it is easy. Here’s what I recommend:
- First go to the CCG landing page and select which country you want find out more about. They are split up by region: Asia, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Western Hemisphere.
- Once you have clicked on a country, you will notice there are eight sections listed with topics you can click on in each of the following:
- Doing Business in [Country]
- Political and Economic Environment
- Selling U.S. Products and Services
- Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment
- Trade Regulations, Customs, and Standards
- Investment Climate Statement
- Trade and Project Financing
- Business Travel
Max: What if I just want to find out about the Defense Industry in South Korea? What all would I click on?
Jim: Well, that depends. First click on the Korea link under the Asia region, then next under the “Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment” section. I would recommend clicking on the Defense Industry Equipment link. Under this link, you will get a comprehensive view of the Defense Industry market segment in South Korea, including best prospects and opportunities in the market. This section also includes major trade shows and key acquisition contacts for the Defense Industry in Korea. However, I wouldn’t recommend stopping at that link alone, especially for the Defense Industry. I would recommend looking at the “Doing Business in Korea” section, and reading through the overview sections where there is valuable information on how strong a trade partner Korea is with the United States. Then look at Market Opportunity and Challenges insights, as well as where you can find a general Market Entry Strategy specific to Korea.
Seeing as how the “Doing Business in Korea” Market Entry Strategy link explicitly recommends “a local presence is essential for success,” I would highly recommend that you look at the “Selling U.S. Products and Services” section. This explains the various aspects of actually selling in Korea, such as the Using an Agent to Sell US Products and Services or Establishing an Office , where you will find how to establish the local presence recommended by our Commercial Specialists at the U.S. Embassy in Korea.
Max: That sounds helpful, is that all I should look at then?
Jim: Your company has had good success in selling quality U.S. goods to the Defense Industry worldwide. In pursuing opportunities in Korea, you should check out the “Trade Regulations, Customs, and Standards” section for Korea, where topics such as Import Requirements and Documentation and U.S. Export Controls, among others, are covered for the South Korean market.