By John Ward, a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.
Efforts to better coordinate the export promotion activities of state agencies and the federal government took a step forward on September 7, 2011, with the signature of a memorandum of intent between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the State International Development Organizations (SIDO). The agreement formalizes and expands ITA’s existing partnership with state trade agencies to deliver services needed
by U.S. companies that want to enter foreign markets. Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade, and Manny Mencia, president of SIDO, signed the memorandum at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C.
“Working with partners like the State International Development Organizations will allow more small and medium-sized businesses to tap into resources that will help them find new customers,” Sánchez said. “Through our network of international trade specialists in more than 100 U.S. cities and each state’s trade office, businesses will be able to access assistance from experienced staff to simplify the exporting process.”
Mencia echoed the sentiment. “We are excited to expand our working relationship with the International Trade Administration. A closer partnership between ITA and the states will provide greater access to export opportunities and trade financing for our companies and help to create much needed jobs in our states.”
SIDO is a nonprofit affiliate organization of the Council of State Governments that represents the trade promotion organizations of U.S. state governments as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
According to a 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than three-quarters of state trade offices view ITA’s export promotion services as “very” or “moderately” important to their states’ export promotion capabilities. The GAO report also found that most states already rely on or partner with ITA to obtain export assistance in overseas markets where the states have no representation.
The new agreement will build on this relationship through a variety of means, including regular consultations between ITA and SIDO, enhanced partnership activities, and identification of opportunities that increase awareness of ITA’s export promotion services.