Steve Williams is the Operations Team Lead with the International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center
So far in this year’s NCAA Tournament, we’ve seen several underdogs knock out the proverbial Goliath. As a small business owner, you might feel at times like an underdog. Just like Wichita State, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast, who have to compete against schools with bigger budgets and more highly touted recruits, small businesses can feel at a disadvantage when they compete overseas against companies who have a home-court advantage. It might seem intimidating, but just like these teams in the Sweet 16, you can come out on top with the right strategy.
If your company’s export goals are ever impeded by a foreign government-imposed trade barrier, you can call on the International Trade Administration’s Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC) Program to come into the game. The TAC Program works to help remove the trade barriers you face. Since the inception of the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, the Program has initiated 735 market access and compliance cases in 104 countries, successfully removing 293 specific non-tariff barriers (in 80 countries) affecting a broad range of industries.
As a recent example, the International Trade Administration (ITA) helped Johnson Outdoors, a sporting goods manufacturer based in Wisconsin, regain ownership of its trademark in Russia. A Johnson Outdoors competitor registered the Johnson Outdoors’ trademark with Russia’s patent office and then attempted to sue Johnson Outdoors for alleged violation of the trademark. ITA spoke with Russian officials about proper protection of IPR. This resulted in the Russian company dropping its suit against Johnson Outdoors and relinquishing its trademark, allowing Johnson Outdoors to maintain $100 million in annual revenue.
Our program works by assembling a small team of experts from our 400 specialists, experts both in the country and the trade agreement relevant to your specific issue. We can assist in helping to remove or reduce discriminatory or unnecessary trade restrictive barriers related to customs, rules of origin, government procurement, investment, services or standards testing, licensing, certification requirements, or even issues related to intellectual property rights. Best of all, our services are completely free of charge!
The next time you need some help with a foreign government trade barrier, contact us and we’ll be in your court.