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Are you Export Savvy? Get the Edge on Exporting with New Export.gov Resources

April 19, 2018

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

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

Logo for Export.gov's new email service, Export Today.Setting your compass in international trade can be rewarding, but challenging. Are you wondering “What is my firm’s potential for international sales?” or “How do I find greater success abroad?” We have two new online tools that can help you chart a course: export.gov’s exporter (self) assessments and export business tip emails.

Exporter Assessments Point the Way Forward

The U.S. Commercial Service’s exporter assessments can help improve your export planning while pointing to helpful resources. With expert input from our global network of trade professionals, the quick and easy-to-use assessments are customized to different levels of experience: new-to-export companies, exporters expanding into new markets, or experienced exporters in more challenging markets.

There are many questions to consider. Here is a brief overview of questions that are answered in the assessments:

  • Does your firm have sufficient production capacity that can be committed to the export market?
  • Does your company have capabilities to modify ingredients and product packaging to meet foreign import regulations, cultural preferences, and survive competition?
  • Will financing be required for any expansion?
  • Has your business considered pursuing U.S. free trade agreement countries as part of a broader export strategy?
  • Is your company familiar with U.S. Department of Commerce resources to help resolve trade issues and problems?

Moreover, each assessment provides important links to additional information, including the informative Exporting Basics videos series.

New “Export Today” Emails Give You Tips for Success

To continue developing your exporting competency, subscribe to our new email tip service, Export Today. You will receive biweekly emails from the U.S. Commercial Service, and get pointers on exporting issues relevant to your company’s experience level. Whether it’s shipping issues, trade finance assistance, researching the market, or a separate issue, Export Today will provide you with insights and connect you with the best content on export.gov. Sign up today.

Get Started Today on Export.gov

With our decades of experience in helping U.S. companies sell abroad, we bring you the most useful information and tools on export.gov. Companies that take the time to think through an export plan tend to have greater international success. The effort can make the difference between generating a few international sales and achieving real business growth. Get export savvy and on the path to new export sales by taking your own exporter assessment and signing up for Export Today email tips.

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The Show Me State Sees Significant FDI

April 11, 2018

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

Guest blog post by Steve Johnson, CEO, Missouri Partnership

Graphic of the Missouri Partnership logo.Businesses with overseas locations are rapidly transitioning production back to the United States, and facilities are popping up in every region, including Missouri. Manufacturers are taking advantage of what Missouri has to offer by joining an existing industry center with the infrastructure and talent supplies already in place, including access to major customers.

The United States is poised to re-emerge as a manufacturing superpower, thanks in large part to foreign direct investment. Since January 2017, Missouri has attracted significant investments by foreign-owned companies and from U.S. companies’ reshoring jobs. Some examples include:

  • Brødrene Hartmann, a Danish manufacturing company, kicked off production at its U.S. headquarters in Rolla, Missouri;
  • Trans-Lux reshored jobs from China to Missouri;
  • Toyota invested more than $17 million in its Missouri plant; and,
  • Nammo AS, an international aerospace and defense company headquartered in Norway, chose Pettis County, Missouri, as the site of its latest U.S. distribution center.

SelectUSA EDO SPOTLIGHT SERIES:

This post is part of SelectUSA’s EDO Spotlight series, highlighting the work of EDOs around the country recruiting foreign direct investment, how that work supports jobs and economic growth across the United States, and how SelectUSA partners with EDOs to support economic development. 

“This move to Missouri is a well thought through strategy where all the benefits for all counterparts are optimized,” said Raimo Helasmaki, Nammo’s Executive Vice President of Commercial Ammunition. “The local authorities have been very easy to work with to help develop this project. We look forward to years of growth through this facility.”

In February, Faurecia, a leading automotive technology company headquartered in France, announced an investment of more than $60 million and the creation of more than 300 jobs in Blue Springs, Missouri.

“Kansas City Metro and the Blue Springs areas are known for being a source of excellence in American manufacturing, and we’re looking forward to building on that expertise and skill set as we continue to provide the very best to our customers,” said Donald Hampton, Jr., president of Faurecia Interiors in North America.

In March, Switzerland’s ARG International AG announced an investment in the U.S.-based Magnitude 7 Metals, creating more than 450 advanced manufacturing jobs in Marston, Missouri.

“From Washington to Missouri, what we are announcing today is the result of years of hard work and a major change in the way employers and farmers are treated,” said U.S. Representative Jason Smith (MO-8) about the Magnitude 7 investment. “We are bringing back the domestic aluminum and steel industries, and with it, jobs.”

Manufacturing buzz is building and it has crossed international barriers. Foreign companies recognize the advantages of manufacturing in the United States, and their interest is leading to serious discussions and decisions. This migration seems to be leading to a resurgence in American manufacturing prosperity, returning to its roots as a center of innovation and enterprise.

For more information on the Missouri Partnership, please visit missouripartnership.com.

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STRENGTHENING CREDIT CONDITIONS FOR EXPORTING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

April 6, 2018

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

Ericka Ukrow is a Senior International Trade Specialist specializing in Financial Services at the International Trade Administration.

Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2017. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Meeting of the TFAC, February 22, 2018. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Exporters, lenders, and researchers are working together to improve options for trade financing through the Department of Commerce’s Trade Finance Advisory Council (TFAC).

In an increasingly interconnected global economy, trade is taking a prominent role in our country’s economic growth.

The availability of finance is essential for a vigorous trading system. Most export transactions are supported by some form of financing or credit insurance. However, significant gaps in the global provision of trade finance remain.

Globally, the trade finance gap in 2017 was estimated at $1.5 trillion, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facing the greatest hurdles to access trade finance.

The TFAC advises the Secretary of Commerce on effective ways to increase access to financing resources for all U.S. exporters, especially SMEs. With up to 20 private-sector members representing financial and insurance services providers, manufacturing firms, trade finance industry associations, and research organizations, the TFAC’s thought-leadership coordinates perspectives from diverse stakeholders into the development of policies and programs in this area.

These insights help direct Commerce’s actions toward conducive framework conditions that would amplify U.S. exporters access to strategic educational and financing resources.

Over the last fifteen months, the TFAC has focused on:

  1. export finance best practices;
  2. enabling new private sector channels for the flow of credit to exporting SMEs;
  3. education strategies to reduce the information gap across government, community banks, and other enablers of SME finance;
  4. addressing financing process obstacles that impede SME credit;
  5. analyzing trade credit insurance underutilization in the United States; and
  6. reviewing the performance of alternative export credit agencies’ models.
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 17, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell - Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

Meeting of the TFAC at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell – Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

At the February TFAC meeting, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recognized the Council for its critical role in advancing the Administration’s goal of reducing U.S. trade deficits by empowering more SMEs with financing solutions that would increase their export opportunities.

“While we seek to level the playing field and negotiate more favorable terms with our trading partners, we count on you to continue empowering SMEs in the international arena. Without adequate access to finance, it is difficult for U.S. exporters to sell their products and services globally.”

He also encouraged Council members to identify how emerging technologies, such as blockchain, could facilitate trade finance solutions and reduce risk for U.S. SME exporters.

The TFAC also welcomed Secretary Wilbur Ross’ new appointed members this year:

  • Steven Bash, Senior Vice President, International Banking, City National Bank
  • Alan Beard, Managing Director, Interlink Capital Strategies
  • Russell D’Souza, Vice President, Corporate Treasurer, Hanesbrands, Inc.
  • Patricia Gomes, Managing Director, Regional Head Global Trade and Receivables Finance North America, HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
  • William Browning, Senior Vice President, Business Credit – Trade Finance Manager, First National Bank
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken - National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera - The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann - Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul - Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

Meeting of the TFA at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken – National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera – The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann – Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul – Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

These new appointees expand the Council’s expertise in their representation of both users and providers of trade finance in the manufacturing, banking, and management consulting services sectors.

The TFAC expects to discuss improving the credit conditions and diversifying financing sources for U.S. exporters at their Spring meeting.

If you would like to learn more about the TFAC, you can visit our website or you can contact us at TFC@trade.gov.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the TFAC, stay tuned! The Council may be looking for applicants this summer. You can learn more here.

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Smart Fabrics 101

March 22, 2018

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

Guest blog post by Linden L. Wicklund, Director of Member Services, Industrial Fabrics Association International 

Smart Fabrics Summit logoWe are fast approaching an important gathering of business and government leaders in Washington, D.C., at the Smart Fabrics Summit, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) on April 24.  The Summit will bring together more than 200 representatives from the apparel, technology and textile industries to explore the challenges and opportunities facing designers, manufacturers, and retailers of smart fabrics and wearable products.

The capabilities of everyday textiles and apparel are rapidly expanding as new technologies are developed, redefining how we interact with our environment through clothing and other textiles.  Like cell phones, which have evolved from being used for simple phone calls to incorporating a variety of “smart” functions into a single device, textiles and apparel are evolving and gaining the ability to be used in new and innovative ways.  Smart fabrics – textile materials developed using new technologies to provide revolutionary properties – can communicate with other devices, conduct and store energy, and even monitor biometric data.  One smart fabric is an active wear jacket that allows users to control a smart phone from the jacket’s sleeve. Another cutting-edge technology offered by smart fabric technologies is a sock which tracks an infant’s heart rate and oxygen level while he or she sleeps and sends an alert to the parents’ smartphones if there is a problem.

Defining and understanding smart fabrics is key to developing product standards, intellectual property protections and export strategies. Smart fabrics can include sensors that identify or react to outside stimuli, such as environmental conditions or the wearer’s actions. Sensors may be created through electrical circuits woven into or printed on the material with chemical treatments and coatings, or through fiber or yarn engineering. Smart fabrics may change color in reaction to a stimulus, such as bandages that change color to signal an infection. Smart fabrics may collect solar energy or serve as a carrier for medicine. They can be self-cleaning and even fight air pollution.

Bar graph showing worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Research by Jeff Rasmussen, IFAI’s Director of Market Research, shows that worldwide, the market for smart fabric products has grown by 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017. With this explosive rate of growth, marketing opportunities for U.S. smart fabrics and technology firms are sure to expand. Smart fabric products may be used in multiple market segments, including fashion and entertainment, industrial and commercial, medical and healthcare, military and government, sports and fitness, and transportation.

Join us for the Smart Fabrics Summit on April 24 and learn more about what this diverse and growing market provides to U.S. manufacturers and consumers. The day’s events will include an address from Dr. Yoel Fink, CEO of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), panel discussions covering collaboration with educational institutions, developing standards for smart fabrics, trends in public-private R&D partnerships for smart fabrics, and data security and privacy for connected textiles and apparel. The Summit will also provide demonstrations of various smart fabrics under development.  We hope to see you there!

 

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Ready to Grow Your International Business? Find the Right Market with Video Series

February 27, 2018

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

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

Has your company sold to customers in one or two countries? Congratulations, this is a great foundation for tapping into the international marketplace like many small and medium-sized U.S. businesses. The U.S. Commercial Service (CS) can help you grow and find even greater success.

Many U.S. companies are making limited export sales when they could be pursuing new market opportunities. In fact, U.S. Department of Commerce statistics show that 59 percent of all U.S. exporters sell to only one market. Many businesses perceive exporting as being too burdensome or lack a proactive export plan for entering new markets. The result is missed opportunity.

You already have some knowledge and experience with the marketing and logistics skills involved in exporting, and likely a track record of proven demand and sales. The potential for success in a new market grows exponentially with an export plan built around carefully chosen markets. Let us help you.

Download this video.

How to Find New Foreign Export Markets

A new CS video series can help you identify markets for your business’s growing export strategy. Each year, thousands of U.S. companies find new customers and trade partners abroad with help from CS global trade professionals.

Among the series of Export Destination video shorts covering 20 high-profile market destinations, there is a sub-group of 10 markets for you to consider. These markets may be less crowded with foreign competitors, while still offering high-growth opportunities.

In Latin America, Chile is a good platform for American companies to reach other Latin American markets. A major benefit is that 100 percent of American-made products enter Chile duty-free. Colombia is a strategic hub for entering Latin America, and the only South American country with two oceans. The country is investing in key infrastructure such as railroads, airport, transportation, and roads. Peru is one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, averaging an annual growth rate of about six percent during the last decade.

In Asia, Indonesia is located on one of the world’s major trade routes, and is Southeast Asia’s largest economy with more than 250 million people. Japan is the fourth-largest importer of U.S. products, with fast-growing sectors that include advanced manufacturing, cyber security, and eCommerce. Malaysia is a robust eCommerce market, with 50 percent of Malaysians now making purchases online, and 47 percent of mobile phone users buying products with their devices. Vietnam has transformed into one of the most vibrant markets for U.S. exporters. Since the economic reforms of the 1980s, Vietnam’s annual growth rate of more than five percent has been second only to China in Asia. South Korea is a top U.S. trade partner in the Asian region. American sellers often compete well against Korean suppliers, especially when selling via eCommerce in this high-wired market.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) features world-class infrastructure and is the largest U.S. export market in the Middle East. The UAE has $270 billion worth of opportunities per its 2015-2020 plan for infrastructure investments.

In Africa, South Africa is the most mature and advanced country in Africa with opportunities in power, telecom, healthcare, and more. As Africa’s second-largest economy, the country’s solid infrastructure serves as a base for selling throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Watch a brief overview of the trade opportunities in a foreign country today, or see the entire market destination video series on export.gov. After watching the video, learn more about doing business in the country with our Country Commercial Guides. The guides are authored by CS trade experts at U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 140 countries, and provide economic overviews and insights into industry opportunity, selling techniques, trade financing, business travel and more.

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Indian Automaker Succeeds in United States

February 16, 2018

This is a guest blog post from Rick Haas, CEO of Mahindra Automotive North America.

Mahindra company logoI grew up in Detroit during a period when car culture was the dominant force driving this area. I recall the many warm summer afternoons spent “helping” my uncle and his friends wrench on their muscle cars, hoping that I would have my own hotrod to tinker with someday. But one way or the other, I’d caught the bug, and at the ripe old age of 12 decided that the auto industry was my future.

The men and women here at Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA) have this same passion for creating and producing new and exciting products, many having grown up with experiences like mine. It’s why we’re attracted to Mahindra. Through our investment in Michigan, we are creating and delivering thoughtful new products – and with them new jobs and growth to the Detroit regional economy. We have built a team of highly experienced and talented Americans from the Detroit area to help make this dream a reality and contribute to the rebuilding of this great city.  In November, we opened the first automotive manufacturing facility in Detroit in more than 25 years and are off to the races.

This journey dates back to 1945, when Mahindra began producing the iconic Willys CJ3 under license in India.  Since that time, Mahindra has grown to a $19 billion company that employs 200,000 people in more than 100 countries. When the company was looking to establish a new international auto facility, it had many options including Korea, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.  However, the same rugged, hardworking ethic that has fueled Mahindra for more than 70 years is what drew us to Detroit – still the auto capitol of the world.  The recession hit Detroit and its automotive sector hard, but you can’t keep its hardworking and talented people down long, and I’m proud to be a part of the city’s economic resurgence.

Mahindra established an automotive design technical center just north of Detroit in Troy, Michigan, in 2013, and our work continued to grow – and grow we did! Fueled by the remarkable talent available in the Detroit area, we have tripled our workforce in the last 18 months. The technical center has outgrown our first building and we now have three facilities—in Auburn Hills, Pontiac, and Troy— and have established MANA.  We are currently working with the U.S. Postal Service to develop the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, we will introduce an off-road utility vehicle (UTV) in the first quarter of 2018, and will add another 400 jobs in the Detroit area by 2020.

At Mahindra, we believe the time is now to succeed in America. We are increasing investment in the United States and we expect to grow our American operations significantly in the coming years. We’ve accomplished this with the help of federal, state, and local leaders, including SelectUSA, all of whom have been terrific partners in our growth. Programs like SelectUSA serve as the catalyst to accelerate companies’ investment initiatives in the United States and provide that win-win partnership that can turbocharge job growth in many towns across this nation.

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Eastern Idaho Secures Its First Foreign Direct Investment

February 9, 2018

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

Guest post by Lisa Buddecke, Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho

Photo of Sakae Casting President and CEO Takashi Suzuki and Lt. Governor of Idaho Brad Little at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 20, 2017.

Sakae Casting President and CEO Takashi Suzuki and Lt. Governor of Idaho Brad Little at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 20, 2017.

Eastern Idaho, known for its Innovation Corridor – featuring extensive science, technology, and research sectors – secured its first foreign direct investment (FDI) success as a direct result of SelectUSA.

In the spring of 2017, Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI) celebrated the grand opening of two Japan-based metal fabrication businesses, Sakae Casting and Ohzen, in Idaho Falls. These investments, the first for both companies in the United States, were finalized after meeting with the Idaho team and SelectUSA representatives at the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit.

This FDI came about in a unique way. REDI’s CEO Jan Rogers first contacted Sakae Casting during its 2016 visit to Idaho Falls, thanks to a sister city program between Idaho Falls and Tokai-mura, Japan. At the recommendation of Rogers, Sakae, together with the company’s partner Ohzen, attended the SelectUSA Investment Summit later that summer.

“Thanks to Sakae Casting and Ohzen’s success at the SelectUSA Summit, their representatives returned to Idaho Falls to meet with potential partners, including the University of Idaho, Boise State University, and local advanced manufacturing companies,” Rogers said. “With support from our contacts at SelectUSA, Sakae decided to open its first U.S. location here to focus on research and development and partner with our universities, nuclear, and advance manufacturing companies in product development and sales.”

Selecting Idaho Falls was an ideal fit for Sakae and Ohzen. With the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, and Idaho National Laboratory in the region, these entities are already beginning to pay off for Sakae Casting.

In November 2017, the Idaho Department of Commerce awarded a nearly $238,000 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant to the University of Idaho, Boise State University, and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies to partner with Sakae Casting on research and development on spent nuclear fuel storage and cooling capabilities. The results of this partnership could impact nearly 100 nuclear power sites. The IGEM funding is vital to kick-starting Sakae’s extensive R&D efforts.

Without Sakae Casting attending the SelectUSA Investment Summit and SelectUSA’s ongoing support throughout the process, none of this would have been possible. This successful interaction is a testament to how valuable SelectUSA can be in fostering and supporting FDI in the United States, and how FDI projects can grow foreign capabilities and economic development years after the initial investment.

To learn more about the upcoming 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit (June 20-22), please visit selectusasummit.us.