Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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On Long Island, Startups Emphasize Opportunities to Trade at Startup Global Event Hosted by U.S. Department of Commerce and Global Innovation Forum

November 4, 2016

Elizabeth Montaquila is a Communications Specialist at International Trade Administration

On October 27, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service, NFTC’s Global Innovation Forum (GIF), Small Business Administration and Stony Brook University co-hosted Startup Global Long Island, an event to help startups launch their products or services in international markets. The hosts welcomed over 80 guests, including startup founders in industries from health-tech to agribusiness.

The event featured panels on the global market outlook for startups, intellectual property protection and crafting an international business strategy – all designed to prepare entrepreneurs to engage in international markets and plan for potential challenges.

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Michelle Gillette-Kelly, owner of Ms. Michelle’s gluten free cookies, talks about how she started her company and is now focusing on entering new global markets, with the help of the Commercial Service.

Jake Colvin, Executive Director of GIF, led a discussion on the path to going global, highlighting that, “for all of the anxiety we hear on the campaign trail about trade, the reality is that startups and small businesses today are naturally global.” He continued, “the Internet makes it easy to leverage global markets to support local businesses and jobs.”

During the discussion, Michelle Gillette-Kelly, the owner of Ms. Michelle’s, a gluten-free cookie company, spoke about her startup’s global journey during the first panel on the global outlook for startups. She said, “With my brick-and-mortar bakery, I realized I wasn’t reaching enough people, so I decided to go into manufacturing and sell internationally. Using www.trade.gov I found people at the U.S. Commercial Service who helped me meet European buyers directly to find out which countries might be interested in gluten-free cookies. I am now targeting Canada, the Netherlands and Italy as my first markets and I hope to be exporting soon.”

During the panel on intellectual property protection, IP trade and legal specialists outlined the different forms of IP protection, offered guidelines on when they should be used, and warned against failing to adequately protect IP in international settings. “It’s important to pursue trademarking of your brands and logos before you start printing or shipping anything, not only in the United States, but in all major markets you plan to export to, before you get a cease and desist letter,” cautioned George Likourezos, Intellectual Property Counsel at law firm Carter, Deluca, Farrell & Schmidt.

Dr. Satya Sharma, the Executive Director of the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) at Stony Brook University, led the final panel of the day on resources available to startups to go global and develop an international business strategy. The panelists emphasized that free resources are available from local, state and federal government agencies, such as market entry research, business planning and financing.

The event was a part of the Startup Global initiative, an ongoing partnership between GIF and the Commerce Department to help entrepreneurs think globally from Day One, which has held similar events around the country including in New York City, Seattle, Nashville and Washington, DC.

The day concluded with key takeaways from the day and a look forward. “We want the next administration to know what has and hasn’t worked for startups and to remove any obstacles that might prevent a U.S. company from being competitive. We welcome startups to work with all the public sector resources represented here today, and let us know how we can improve,” noted Josh Mandell, Senior Adviser for Innovation and Competitiveness at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

About the Global Innovation Forum

The Global Innovation Forum is a nonprofit startup that connects entrepreneur, small business, development, and university communities with policymakers and select corporations to explore the opportunities and challenges of engaging in the global marketplace.  GIF serves as a hub for startup, university and development communities around the world to communicate with officials and corporations, discover public and private resources to help them succeed, and improve the public policy landscape to enable global innovation. GIF is a project of the 501(c)(3) National Foreign Trade Council Foundation.

For more information, contact: Kaveri Marathe, Deputy Director, Global Innovation Forum, Tel: (202) 464 2035, kaveri@globalinnovationforum.com

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U.S. Commercial Service Video Series Offers Window to Exporting, World Markets

November 1, 2016

Curt Cultice is a Senior Communications Specialist in ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service

Each year, our U.S. Commercial Service global network of trade professionals counsel thousands of small and medium-sized businesses on exporting. And based on this experience, we understand that the export process can be challenging for companies like yours. Perhaps you are looking to evaluate your export readiness, develop an export plan, or navigate the mechanics of exporting. You might even have some orders sitting directly in front of you.So no matter where you are in the export process, how best to become a successful, proactive exporter for the long-term?  Look no further, as the U.S. Commercial Service has developed a new set of “How to Export” resources including a series of themed export basics video shorts.

[Download the full video (16 MB)]

The first of six themes, Get Ready to Export!, consists of three videos and related resources that outlines in simple, animated detail, what businesses need to know about exporting:

  • Identifying each step of the export process
  • How to become export ready
  • Guidance on preparing a comprehensive export plan that includes determining potential markets, customers, pricing, and financing options.

As noted in the video, “A well-thought out export plan can make all the difference between generating a few international sales and achieving real business growth.”

Get Ready to Export! will be followed by five more export themes to be released on an ongoing basis through early 2017, as noted below:

  1. Get Ready to Export
  2. Plan Your Market Entry Strategy
  3. Find Foreign Buyers 
  4. Get Paid
  5. Make the Export Sale
  6. Navigate Your Export Market Successfully

Making the Case  

While many U.S. businesses are boosting their bottom line and competitiveness by making foreign sales, many have yet to do so. Only a small fraction of all U.S. companies export, and U.S. Department of Commerce data show that 59 percent of all current U.S. exporters sell to only one market. What are some reasons? For many companies, and especially smaller firms, exporting is often viewed as being too burdensome or ripe with pitfalls that might outweigh the potential for rewards, i.e., dealing with documentation and regulations or the risk of not being paid by the potential international customer.

In today’s global economy, the consequences of not looking beyond U.S. borders can directly impact your business’s long-term growth or success, as more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside the United States. After all, if your business is not exporting, it’s highly likely your competitors—both foreign and domestic—are or will be selling internationally.

The  growth of emerging world markets, the rise of e-commerce, improved logistics options, and free trade agreements are among the major trends that has made exporting more viable than ever for even the smallest companies. In fact, Census Bureau data shows that 98 percent of U.S. companies that export are small- and medium-sized firms with fewer than 500 employees.

Looking at your business, there are some other attributes that might provide further incentive to explore exporting or expand current international sales. If your business has a good track record of selling in the United States, one of the world’s most open and competitive markets, it may also be a good candidate for selling into foreign markets. Also, if your firm has a web presence, you can look at customizing your website for global customers and taking advantage of e-commerce opportunities.

One of the most important things to know is that when it comes to exporting, your business doesn’t have to go it alone. The U.S. Government and its public and private sector partners provide a wide range of export assistance, starting with the U.S. Commercial Service’s global network of 108 offices across the United States and in U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 75 countries. For more information, visit http://www.export.gov.

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ITA Supports Industry in Advancing Standards and Codes for Sustainable Construction

October 26, 2016

Joanne Littlefair is a Senior International Trade Specialist in Industry and Analysis’s Office of Materials Industries. She serves as Team Lead for the MDCP with ASTM International and International Code Council.

International markets supported more than $86 billion in exports for U.S. building product manufacturers in 2015. In fact, construction is expected to remain a growth sector globally looking forward, and a trend toward more sustainable “green” construction has swept world markets. ITA makes its mark on reducing and preventing technical barriers to trade in building products and services through its Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) with ASTM International. Focusing on the dynamic Gulf Cooperation Council states in the Middle East , the MDCP advances knowledge and solutions in a key element of trade facilitation: international standards.

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ASTM International booth, with ASTM, ITA, and ICC staff at a Doha, Qatar trade event in May 2015

International standards, along with building codes and technical regulations that reference such standards, play an important role in facilitating global trade by creating the certainty in which buyers and sellers thrive. High-quality, widely accepted international standards create a common language and common technical understanding, providing authoritative requirements for materials and products, procedures, and testing. A recent ITA study showed technical regulations potentially linked to 92 percent of U.S. goods exports in 2015.

In 2014, ITA launched its MDCP with ASTM International and code partner International Code Council (ICC) to share existing solutions and approaches with Gulf partners tackling complex sustainable construction challenges. The multi-year program includes workshops in the Gulf to learn about leaders’ priorities and initiatives, Gulf official delegation visits to the U.S. to engage in standards development and building code development activities, and a variety of hands-on and virtual training in green building topics.

Full details about the ITA MDCP, along with all presentations, webinar videos and other materials are publicly available and can be found at the ASTM program website. The most recent MDCP event was the October 20th ASTM-ICC-ITA Standards and Codes for Sustainable Construction workshop in Dubai with government and industry leaders. This workshop built on multiple events during Discover America week in Dubai, in which ASTM International’s senior leaders discussed the importance of standards to a wide variety of growing industries.

ITA projects $4 billion in new export opportunities in 2018 for just a subset of industries that benefit from the growth of green building: HVAC, lighting, plumbing, wood products, insulation, doors and windows, and glass.

Finally, ITA provides an excellent resource guide in its new and fascinating export market report 2016 Top Markets: Building Products and Sustainable Construction. This report projects which international markets will hold greatest value for these U.S. building products exporters in 2018 and provides detailed country case studies of leading markets.

Stay Informed and Engage in International Standards Development

Sign up for Notify U.S.to review and comment on proposed regulations around the world. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based information service designed to disseminate World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) notifications. It features e-mail notifications of changes to domestic and foreign technical regulations for industrial products (including product packaging, marking and labeling) and offers complete texts of proposed regulations for review and comment.

Sign up for ITA Standards Alert to learn about opportunities to participate in standards development in organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Standards Alert is an ITA service in cooperation with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the private sector coordinator of the U.S. Standards system. U.S. company participation is key to making sure that standards do not become trade barriers.

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Getting Ahead with GetGlobal

October 24, 2016

Kenneth Hyatt is Acting Under Secretary, International Trade Administration (ITA)

Last week, I had the honor of addressing the GetGlobal Conference which took place October 20 – 21 in Los Angeles. The GetGlobal organization provides insights into the opportunities and challenges that companies face in many of the world’s most exciting markets, and assists companies in navigating these markets.

The conference itself created a space for companies to connect to a wide range of resources. It featured panels and workshops that offered insights on both tactics and strategies for successfully navigating new markets and provided opportunities to connect with industry leaders, field experts, CEOs, and current and former high-level officials, including former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. The International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service works closely with GetGlobal, coordinating services and products tailored to U.S. businesses who export around the world.

My overarching message to the attendees was that trade is the tool that allows our workers and companies to be part of the global nature of business.

For instance, while the share of middle-class consumers in North America and Europe is projected to fall over the next two decades, it is set to rise in many other areas of the world – including more than doubling in the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, a critical shift in goods productions comes in light of the digitization of manufacturing. The potential for using data, in areas like 3D printing and e-commerce, means that goods production is on the edge of incredible innovation in the digital space. And with the majority of trade now comprised of intermediate goods and services, as well as capital goods, we must also remember that utilizing global supply chains is a critical part of being involved in global markets.

So what does that mean? The success of U.S. companies will depend on their ability to meet global demand, compete on a global playing field, and reap the benefits of the digital economy. And this, in turn, will create high-quality American jobs.

It also means that it is critical that we ensure trade facilitation and open international markets to the benefit of U.S. companies and consumers. That is why working with our international counterparts to secure the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement is a key goal of ITA, as it will reduce trade costs by as much as 14%. And it is also why we are working very hard to make the Trans-Pacific Partnership a reality. TPP, an historic trade agreement, will remove trade barriers in 11 Pacific Rim markets, while protecting the cross-border data flows that drive the digital economy.

ITA remains committed to supporting our exporters as they navigate the exciting trade opportunities around the world, to drive economic growth, increase wages, and create jobs across the U.S.

About GetGlobal

GetGlobal was created to address the knowledge vacuum that exists for U.S. businesses seeking to expand to foreign markets. An interactive and dynamic forum for ideas and information, GetGlobal was designed to unite innovative, forward thinking U.S. companies who would like to expand to other countries with the experts who can help make that a reality. With the knowledge gained at GetGlobal, U.S. companies will begin to possess the power to help them make smart and confident decisions about growing their businesses in foreign markets.

About the U.S. Commercial Service

The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 international markets help U.S. companies to either start exporting or to increase their sales to new global markets.

About the International Trade Administration

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is the premier resource for American companies competing in the global marketplace. ITA has more than 2,200 employees assisting U.S. exporters in more than 100 U.S. cities and 75 markets worldwide. For more information on ITA visit www.trade.gov.

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Going Global: A Virtual Toolkit for Small Businesses

April 29, 2016

Ashley Zuelke is the Senior Advisor for Export Policy, Promotion and Strategy at the International Trade Administration.  

World Trade Month logoIn recognition of World Trade Month in May, communities across the country will focus on the importance of trade and its ongoing contribution to U.S. economic and job growth. The first week of May recognizes National Small Business Week, a fitting start to the month given the role of America’s small and medium-sized business which fuel our economy. These businesses make up the vast majority of U.S. exporters and an increasing share of the value of U.S. exports.

For many small U.S. companies, however, the path to expanding globally requires a large time investment and management commitment. Many firms are not sure where to begin, who to talk to, or how to navigate available resources. As a part of the National Export Initiative/NEXT and the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, U.S. government agencies are committed to helping businesses tackle these challenges, and have produced a streamlined guide of federal export resources. The tools and resources we provide help answer questions regarding how to:

  1. Identify markets through independent research
  1. Assess markets of interest
  • Country Commercial Guides provide market intelligence and guidance on doing business in specific markets around the world.
  • StopFakes.gov and its Online Training Module is a good starting point for learning how to protect your Intellectual Property (IP) in markets of interest.
  • Talk to an expert:
  1. Make Connections
  • The U.S. Commercial Service can also help with:
    • Conducting background checks on potential buyers and distributors.
    • Connecting your business with pre-screened potential overseas partners.
    • Promoting your product or service to prospective buyers at trade events worldwide.
    • Meeting with international industry and government decision makers in your target market(s).
    • Navigating cultural differences.
  • Exhibit at U.S. trade shows: ITA recruits and vets foreign buyer delegations for certain shows.
  • Showcase at an overseas trade show in U.S. pavilions: Go to export.gov and search events.
  • See if your state is an awardee of the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) matching-fund awards from the Small Business Administration. State awardees administer STEP funds to help small businesses enter and succeed in the global marketplace.
  1. Take Advantage of Financing and Insurance
  1. Navigate mechanics

    Basic Guide to Exporting Cover

    Download “A Basic Guide to Exporting” Now!

  • Making international sales online? Learn about eCommerce mechanics.
  • The U.S. Commercial Service can also help with:
    • Understanding export documentation requirements and import regulations of foreign markets.
    • Navigating U.S. government export controls, compliance, and trade financing options.
    • Overcoming trade obstacles to successfully enter international markets.
  • Logistics resources and guidance: http://www.export.gov/logistics
  • When you export any good valued at over $2,500 (or requiring a license), you must submit information on the shipment to the Automated Export System (AES). Get help on filing AES, classifying merchandise, regulations and trade data by calling 1-800-549-0595. More information available on the Global Reach blog.
  • Screen potential buyers and partners to make sure you can do business with them and that they are not on one of the U.S. government denied parties or export control lists.

All of this information and more is available through “A Basic Guide to Exporting.” SBA also has an online tool to help you develop your Export Business Plan.

Exporting can be an important way to grow your business and your bottom line. These available tools are at your disposal to help you succeed in the global marketplace.

For more information on U.S. government export programs and services, visit www.export.gov.

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“Survey Says…Foreign Market Research is Tops”

April 19, 2016

Morgan Barr is an International Economist in ITA’s Office of Trade Policy & Analysis.

What do companies need to increase their export sales? In a recent client survey, the International Trade Administration (ITA) confirmed that it is often assistance in gathering market or competitive intelligence. Most companies use in-depth industry research on foreign markets to identify which markets to target, and forecasting future business opportunities using data is especially valuable. However, many companies lack an organized approach to finding this research. The overarching finding on market intelligence can be summarized by an interviewee who expressed that, “Market research is key, however, we don’t have the ability to do it ourselves.”

ITA has a variety of resources to help companies conduct market research on potential export markets for their goods and services—providing everything from tariffs under Free Trade Agreements, detailed trade data, and country guides to industry-specific market research. Together, these resources can provide important market information for U.S. exporters looking for new markets and new opportunities. Learning more about market opportunities is also a critical step in preparing to exhibit at trade shows such as the upcoming Hannover Messe.

Data

Trade statistics to identify new markets can be found in ITA’s Trade Policy Information System, which has an easy search function that quickly provides major U.S. export and import markets by product in an easy-to-read graphical format. Also, Trade Stats Express displays the latest annual U.S. merchandise trade statistics at the national and state levels in maps, graphs, and tables tailored to the user’s needs.

The FTA Tariff Tool provides tariff information on specific products under various U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs). It shows the tariff applied on the date the FTA entered into force and how it is phased out or reduced over time under the agreement. It now contains data on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Top Markets and Industry Information

Top Markets Reports, written by experts from ITA’s Industry and Analysis team, are industry-specific reports, covering both goods and services industries. Each report ranks future export opportunities within a particular industry based on a sector-specific methodology and includes country case studies for identified top markets.

Just in time for Hannover Messe Trade Show, ITA released seven updated Top Markets Reports related to the themes of the show, in order to provide the latest assessment of export opportunities for U.S. companies.

Country Information

Country Commercial Guides are an excellent starting point for everything you need to know about exporting and doing business in more than 125 overseas markets. They are written by U.S. Embassy trade experts and provide critical information on everything from entry strategies for a particular market, to leading sectors for U.S. exports and investment, to customs procedures.

Market Intelligence Search

The above resources are just the beginning. In the near future, we plan to release new lines of market research reporting on www.export.gov that will replace the website’s Market Research Library. Companies will then be able to tap into hundreds of new industry-specific articles, global market insights, and other trade education materials previously unavailable. Other valuable tools, such as a New to Market Tool for identifying export prospects, are not far behind, as we move forward with initiatives to provide more digital services and information to our customers.

Where do you go from there? More than 60 percent of survey respondents sought ITA’s assistance for their overall marketing and planning needs, which also includes identifying and arranging appointments with foreign partners, distributors and buyers, as well as developing a strategy to begin or expand exporting. Along with our self-help market research resources, ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service has offices across the United States that can work together with you to develop an entire export strategy.

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Sailing Into the Wind: Three Tips to Export Success While Facing Strong Economic Headwinds

March 23, 2016

Dylan Daniels is a Senior Trade Specialist and member of ITA’s Vets Go Global Team

The global economic headwinds currently facing U.S. businesses are enough to force even the most intrepid exporter to search for safe harbors.  However by mitigating the risk inherent to international trade, you can sail into these economic headwinds with confidence.  Trusting in these three tips, you should be better prepared to navigate the turbulent waters of international commerce.

 Tip #1: Mitigate Your Foreign Exchange (FX) Exposure

From the viewpoint of a U.S. exporter who chooses to sell in foreign currencies, FX risk is the exposure to potential financial losses due to devaluation of the foreign currency against the U.S. dollar. Obviously, this exposure can be avoided by insisting on selling only in U.S. dollars.  However, such an approach may result in losing export opportunities to competitors who are willing to accommodate their foreign buyers by selling in their local currencies.

FX Risk Management options include: Non-Hedging FX Risk Management Techniques; FX Forward Hedges; and FX Options Hedges.

  • Non-Hedging FX Risk Management Techniques

The exporter can avoid FX exposure by using the simplest non-hedging technique: price the sale in a foreign currency in exchange for cash in advance.  The current spot market rate will then determine the U.S. dollar value of the foreign proceeds.  A spot transaction is when the exporter and the importer agree to pay using today’s exchange rate and settle within two business days

  • FX Forward Hedges

A forward contract enables the exporter to sell a set amount of foreign currency at a pre-agreed exchange rate with a delivery date from three days to one year into the future.  For example, U.S. goods are sold to a French company for €1 million on 60-day terms and the forward rate for “60-day euro” is 0.80 euro to the dollar.  The U.S. exporter can eliminate FX exposure by contracting to deliver €1 million to its bank in 60 days in exchange for payment of $1.25 million.

  •  FX Options Hedges

Option Hedges are used for exceptionally large transactions that have been quoted in foreign currency.  Under an FX option, the exporter acquires the right, but not the obligation, to deliver an agreed amount of foreign currency to the FX trader in exchange for dollars at a specified rate on or before the expiration date of the option.  While FX options hedges provide a high degree of flexibility, they can be significantly more costly than FX forward contracts.

 Tip #2: Insure Your Export Transaction

 The Export-Import Bank is one source for export credit insurance (ECI).  ECI protects an exporter of products and services against the risk of non-payment by a foreign buyer.  ECI generally covers commercial risks, and certain political risks that could result in non-payment.  ECI also covers currency inconvertibility, expropriation, and changes in import or export regulations.

 Tip #3: Manage Expectations with a Contract

 The exporter should negotiate a foreign sales agreement to expressly define the roles and responsibilities of the parties.  Most representatives are interested in your company’s pricing structure and product profit potential.  They are also concerned with the terms of payment; product regulation; competitors and their market shares; the amount of support provided by your firm, such as sales aids, promotional material, and advertising; training for the sales and service staff; and your company’s ability to deliver on schedule.

The contract may contain provisions that specify the actions of the foreign representative.  For example, a non-disclosure agreement, non-compete clause, and instructions on how to handle inquiries from outside their sales territory should be included.

It may be appropriate to include performance requirements, such as a minimum sales volume and an expected rate of increase.  Be sure to include an escape clause in the agreement that allows you to end the relationship safely and cleanly if the representative does not fulfill expectations.

Finally, the agreement with the foreign representative should define what laws apply to the agreement.  Even if you choose U.S. law or that of a third country, the laws of the representative’s country may take precedence.  Many suppliers define the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG, or the Vienna Convention) as the source of resolution for contract disputes, or they defer to a ruling by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

 By mitigating risk factors associated with international transactions you’ll have greater confidence to engage in international trade.  Moreover, by making use of these three simple tips, instead of being blown back, you’ll sail forward into the economic headwinds facing exporters today.  The U.S. Department of Commerce, including the members of its Vets Go Global team, are here to assist you take your business into new and exciting global markets.