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New-to-Export? Find the Right Export Market with Our New Video Series

December 14, 2017

By Curt Cultice, Senior Communications Specialist, and Jennifer Stone Marshall, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service.

Many U.S companies—particularly small and medium-sized businesses—don’t export because they believe it’s too burdensome, or don’t know where to start. How about your company?  Are you leaving money on the table by not selling to the 95 percent of world consumers who live outside of the United States?

We can help you find the right export market. The internet, improved logistics options, and the array of available export assistance through the U.S. Commercial Service and federal, state and local partners, has made exporting more viable for even the smallest businesses.

Successful exporting is highly dependent on developing an export plan, or “roadmap.” Many companies begin export activities haphazardly, without carefully screening markets or options for market entry. Without an export plan, the chances of making a costly mistake increases, and better export opportunities are often overlooked. This in turn, can cost your company valuable time, resources and customers.

How to Begin Exporting 

Download Video [39MB]

So, where to start? The U.S. Commercial Service has developed a series of video shorts covering 20 high-profile market destinations. Among these are a sub-group of five markets that new-to-export companies might wish to consider. These markets may be geographically closer to the United States, or may offer more transparency and ease of doing business than many other markets:

In North America, Canada is America’s number one trade partner, and many U.S. businesses sell directly to Canadian consumers and retailers via eCommerce. Mexico is our nation’s second-largest export market with over 120 million citizens and a growing middle class. U.S. exporters benefit from a well-developed Mexican supply chain closely integrated with the United States.

In Europe, Germany is the 4th largest market in the world, and its 80 million people generally have a high standard of living with plenty of disposable income. The United Kingdom is the world’s 5th largest economy, and more than 40,000 American companies sell there. Exporters benefit from a common language, low trade barriers, and a business-friendly environment.

Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world, notching positive economic growth every single quarter since 1991. The Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement enables 99 percent of American-made consumer goods to enter the country duty-free.

Watch a brief overview of each market, and find the entire market destination video series on market destination series. After watching the video, learn more about doing business in the country with our Country Commercial Guide. The guides, authored by U.S. Commercial Service trade experts at U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 140 countries, provide economic overviews and insights into industry opportunities, selling techniques, trade financing, business travel and more.

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An American Delegation of States in Paris (to Promote FDI)

December 11, 2017

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

By Marie-Josee Andrieu, Investment Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, SelectUSA

SelectUSA logoFrance is the sixth-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United States and an important international trading partner. Majority French-owned firms directly support more than 677,000 American jobs, while majority U.S.-owned firms directly employ 440,000 French workers. A central goal of the U.S. Embassy in Paris is to strengthen these bonds through increased cooperation and understanding.

SelectUSA and the Council of American States in Europe (CASE) recently hosted a “Set Up, Expand, and Succeed in the United States” seminar for 30 French companies planning to invest in the United States. We were joined by economic developers from 10 CASE member states: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, and South Carolina.

A panel of FDI experts provided attendees with information on the U.S. investment climate, as well as legal and regulatory considerations. French aerospace company Safran, which launched its U.S. operations in the 1970s, joined the panel to discuss its experiences.

Initial discussions between French companies and U.S. economic developers took place during more than 80 meetings at the event. We look forward to a continuing dialogue among these companies and CASE to promote potential investments. We hope to see many of the participants at the upcoming 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 20-22, in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the premier FDI event in the United States, please visit www.selectusasummit.us.

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Partnership and Collaboration in Trade Finance Education For Washington State SME Exporters

December 7, 2017

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

Yuki Fujiyama is a trade finance specialist in the Office of Finance and Insurance Industries and the author of the Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters.  Diane Mooney is the Director of the U.S. Commercial Service Seattle.

Participants of the EFACW Trade Finance Workshop pose for a photo on Sept. 14 at the World Trade Center Seattle.

Participants of the EFACW Trade Finance Workshop on Sept. 14 at the World Trade Center Seattle.

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of our borders, U.S. companies must take greater advantage of the tremendous business opportunities in fast-growing markets around the world.  Exporting enables U.S. businesses to expand markets, generate new distribution and revenue streams, and weather changes in the domestic economy.

Despite the clear benefits of exporting, however, many U.S. businesses, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), face challenges in going global. The obstacles most often cited by these SMEs include: (1) the risk of non-payment by foreign buyers; and (2) the accessibility of trade finance.

To help address such challenges, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), the federal government’s lead export promotion agency; and the Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington (EFACW), a non-profit and a fiscal year 2017 ITA strategic partner; recently presented a half-day interactive trade finance workshop for Washington state SMEs considering going global or expanding export operations.

The interactive workshop followed the format as outlined in the U.S. Commerce Department’s Trade Finance Guide and helped participants learn how to: (1) assess and mitigate the risk of non- and delayed payment by foreign buyers; (2) select an appropriate payment method; (3) evaluate and access export finance options; and (4) manage foreign exchange risk.

The workshop, which was held in September at the World Trade Center Seattle, was part of a joint ongoing effort between ITA and EFACW to help Washington state SMEs become better educated about trade finance options and the risks associated with cross-border transactions. For exporters, trade finance is essential for international trade transactions and is a means to turn export opportunities into actual sales. By effectively managing the risks associated with doing business internationally, exporters can ensure they’ll get paid in a timely manner.

Brent Sisco of Acrowood Corporation, an Everett, Washington-based forest products equipment manufacturer, praised the workshop, noting that “This training was very beneficial because ITA trade finance expert Yuki Fujiyama provided straight forward descriptions, reviewed pros and cons of the most common techniques companies use to extend credit to overseas customers and the offered in depth explanations after the presentation.” 

Michael Kuehner, President of Greenwood Clean Energy, a Redmond, Washington-based privately-held renewable energy company developing biomass fired heating appliances, agreed, commenting that “The workshop was a great introduction to the complex world of export financing. In particular, Yuki Fujiyama’s session on Trade Finance was invaluable to those of us new to exporting. The introduction and the resource he provided, The Trade Finance Guide, has already helped us become better informed and active in pursing international business.”

EFACW Director Zara Castillo concurred with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Sisco and Mr. Kuehner, emphasizing that “Many other attendees remarked that our joint training workshop was very educational and beneficial.  EFACW looks forward to our continued partnership with ITA in serving Washington state SME exporters.”

Main Entrance of the World Trade Center Seattle with Flags of Different Countries and the Port of Seattle.

Main Entrance of the World Trade Center Seattle with Flags of Different Countries and the Port of Seattle.

Other partners who collaborated with ITA and EFACW to participate in the workshop as presenters included: U.S. Export-Import Bank, U.S. Small Business Administration, Key Bank, and Sallyport Commercial Finance.

In addition to the September 14th workshop, EFACW actively collaborates with the U.S. Commercial Services Washington, which operates ITA’s two local U.S. export assistance centers in Seattle and Spokane, to assist Washington state-based SMEs with export planning and foreign market sales.

In 2016, Washington’s $79.6 billion in goods exports helped contribute to the $2.21 trillion of U.S. goods and services exports. In 2015, over 375,000 U.S. jobs were supported by goods exports from WashingtonIn 2014, over 11,000 SMEs in Washington exported their goods to global markets, accounting for 90 percent of Washington goods exporters.

ITA offers helpful videos that are all about getting paid and financing options available to U.S. companies beginning to export.

Do you need more info on trade finance? Our Trade Finance Guide is a great place to start!

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Registration Now Open For 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit

December 1, 2017

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

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Post by Wilbur Ross

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross speaking to the audience at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit.

Today, I am pleased to announce that registration is open for the 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit, with this year’s theme of: Invest Here. Grow Here. Succeed Here.

The SelectUSA Investment Summit will take place on June 20-22, 2018, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near Washington. The goal is to connect global business leaders with U.S. states and their economic development organizations (EDOs) to facilitate foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States.

The Summit is the pre-eminent event highlighting inbound investment opportunities throughout the United States, and our record of success proves that. Since our first Summit four years ago, participants have announced more than $71 billion in new investment projects into the United States, supporting thousands of jobs, expanding exports, and driving innovation through manufacturing, services, and increased research and development.

The Summit has helped the United States attracts more FDI than any other country in the world, with a total of $3.7 trillion at the end of 2016. These investments support more than 13 million direct and indirect U.S. jobs, and account for more than one-quarter of all U.S. goods exports of $353 billion.

The 2017 Summit attracted more than 3,000 attendees, including more than 1,200 global investors from 64 different markets and more than 600 economic development officials from 51 states and territories.

The Summit displays the pro-growth environment President Trump is creating through initiatives such as regulatory relief, tax reform, and increased energy production. I am confident these will help to maintain the United States as the #1 investment destination in the world. I look forward to seeing you next June at the Summit.

For registration and information regarding the 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit, go to www.selectusasummit.us.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Chris Higginbotham, Deputy Director of Outreach, SelectUSA

November 9, 2017

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees in honor of Veteran’s Day.

When Congress first declared November 11th as a holiday that ultimately became Veterans Day,  it said the day should be marked with “exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”

U.S. Army Segeant Chris Higginbotham standing with comrades in Iraq in 2004.

U.S. Army Sergeant Chris Higginbotham in Iraq in 2004.

I am fortunate that in my two careers — one in the U.S. Army and one in the U.S. Department of Commerce — it was my mission to do just that.

I began my career in the U.S. Army and had the best job in the service; that’s no exaggeration. For six years, I followed Army units around Europe, Southwest Asia and the great Commonwealth of Kentucky as a photographer and videographer. I did my best to tell soldiers’ stories, and to help people in the United States and abroad understand the important missions my colleagues took on every day.

I regularly think back to some of the work we did, like when I joined the airborne troops of 5th Quartermaster Company to photograph one of their jumps, only to learn after takeoff that the C-130 pilot also needed to practice “evasive maneuvers,” which did not make for the smoothest ride. That is the only day I have ever been envious of people who were jumping out of an aircraft.

My unit participated in the ceremony recognizing the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and I had the honor of interviewing veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944. There was a man who I swear could still beat me in a race who recounted his feelings about the war stating, “Oh, it didn’t bother me at all.” That was tough to believe, but you don’t often question someone who’s been through something like that and lived to tell about it.

And I remember being inside a trailer on Camp Victory in Ballad, Iraq, recording video messages for home from the deployed members of 95th Military Police Battalion. There was one soldier whose message would be the first time his newborn son would ever hear his father’s voice or see his face. The soldier kept reaching out to the camera as if by touching it, he would be touching his baby. Giving that tape to those Soldiers’ families back home might have been the most meaningful work I ever did.

Working now in the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is something I see as a continuation of my service in the military. Just like in the Army, my job is to tell the stories of the work my colleagues do through assisting U.S. exporters and attracting foreign direct investment. Their work supports millions of American jobs, and it’s something in which we all take a great amount of pride.

And this work in international trade and business is right at the core of promoting mutual understanding and good will between nations — it’s an everyday perpetuation of what Congress asked Americans to do every November 11th. One recent example of this was at the Trade Winds Business Forum and Trade Mission in Bucharest. I heard U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm and Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose repeatedly reference trade as a key pillar in U.S. relations with Southeast Europe. I witnessed first-hand the ability of our government to connect U.S. companies and organizations to promising business opportunities. I am proud to be part of a team of professionals who work tirelessly every day to help U.S. business compete at home and abroad.

On Veterans Day and every day, I salute all of the great men and women who are serving or who have served in our armed forces, and I give thanks to all who have fought to perpetuate peace and good will around the world.

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Finding the Right Bank to Help Your Company Go Global

October 25, 2017

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

Robert Kurek is the Senior Vice President for International Financial Institutions at KeyBank

A few weeks ago, our team here at KeyBank had the pleasure of joining more than 350 people at the Discover Global Markets: U.S. Manufacturers to Europe and Beyond in Cleveland. As a proud sponsor, we were onsite, meeting with attendees on what to look for in a potential banking partner when entering global markets.

The rewards of an expanding global footprint are numerous, such as access to new growth markets and a diversified customer base, but with these benefits comes a certain amount of risk. Corporate treasurers are challenged every day to recognize, measure, and minimize these risks in a global economic environment that is anything but certain; however, with the right bank your company can recognize and minimize the dangers of international expansion.

If you were unable to attend the event, don’t worry. These are the top five questions to ask a potential banking partner as you explore international growth:

  1. What types of financing and foreign exchange transactions does it provide?
  2. What resources are available to help the importer or exporter?
  3. How does the bank evaluate foreign risk?
  4. Is the bank willing to take the time to understand your business and explain your options?
  5. Does the bank have well-established correspondent banking relationships abroad?

If a bank cannot confidently answer these questions, it is likely not the right partner for your international business ventures.

Finding a bank with global market experience ensures businesses make the most of their foreign trade opportunities. Small businesses should expect their bank of choice to offer working capital to help fill new orders from foreign buyers, including facilities supported by the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Export-Import Bank. These agencies accommodate special trade financing, which allows exporters to borrow against their foreign accounts receivable and extend short-term credit to foreign buyers.

Small and medium-sized businesses interested in expanding their foreign trade should access tools and informational resources to learn how to manage their risks while staying globally competitive.

The right banking partner plays a key role in connecting businesses to a wide range of resources, allowing them to take advantage of global opportunities. Businesses should be able to import, export, or both with confidence by utilizing appropriate finance tools and techniques to help them expand while mitigating risks. Check out some of our financial tools and resources available to help you manage risks and turn foreign business opportunities into profitable outcomes.

 

 

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Celebrating Manufacturing Day with a Focus on FDI

October 23, 2017

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

By Mark Schmit, National Accounts Manager, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, National Institude of Standard and Technology (NIST) 

An employee of UK-based manufacturing company Domtar provides high school students with a tour of the company’s facility in Rock Hill, S.C. on Oct. 6.

An employee of UK-based manufacturing company Domtar provides high school students with a tour of the company’s facility in Rock Hill, S.C. on Oct. 6.

Although I believe Manufacturing Day is an everyday affair, the official 2017 Manufacturing Day has come and gone. On October 6, modern-day manufacturing was showcased to students, teachers, parents, prospective employees, elected officials, and more at over 2,800 separate events across the country.

It is neither a stretch nor an exaggeration to believe that Manufacturing Day 2017 accomplished what it set out to do—celebrate modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of manufacturers in this country. Manufacturers build the things that power, move, and shape America. On October 6, manufacturers across the country opened their doors to show their community what manufacturing is all about.

South Carolina manufacturers have been a mainstay of Manufacturing Day participation since the beginning. Year after year, they have opened their doors to educate visitors. This year, 19 events were held statewide, six of which the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center (SCMEP), was a hosting partner. I want to highlight three of those partnership-led events that celebrated not only partnerships, manufacturing and American jobs, but also FDI, an important part of modern manufacturing in America:

  • Swiss Krono hosted a presentation and plant tour in Barnwell, S.C., for 10 attendees. Swiss Krono LLC, a division of Swiss Krono Group, began distribution in the United States in 2000, and opened its current Barnwell manufacturing facility in 2005. In Barnwell, Swiss Krono LLC creates virtually any style, shape, finish, texture, scrape, bevel, locking system, thickness, size and attached pad of laminate flooring planks sold through distributors, dealers and chains nationwide.
  • Located in Newberry, S.C., Komatsu hosted a presentation and plant tour in honor of Manufacturing Day for 74 attendees. Komatsu America Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of Japan-based Komatsu Ltd., the world’s second largest manufacturer and supplier of earth-moving equipment, consisting of construction, mining, and compact construction equipment.
  • SCMEP partnered with UK-based Domtar in Rock Hill, S.C., to host a presentation and plant tour for 25 attendees, including students from the Floyd Johnson Technology Center. The event was so successful that it was covered by both local and state level media. Domtar is a leading provider of a wide variety of fiber-based products including communication, specialty packaging papers, market pulp and absorbent hygiene products.

These are just a few examples of the events coordinated by the MEP National Network across the country for the 2017 Manufacturing Day festivities.

More success stories and information on how to get involved are available here, and remember to mark your calendars for next year’s Manufacturing Day: October 5, 2018!

A member of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group, NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership works with SelectUSA, the sole federal program dedicated to promoting and facilitating foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. Together, these entities partner to encourage international companies to invest in the U.S. manufacturing industry.