Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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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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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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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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Tacoma, Washington Firms Translate Global Success into Local Jobs and Economic Growth

October 16, 2017

Susan Crawford is a communications specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service’s Pacific North Network 

U.S. Rep. Kilmer’s District Representative Nicholas Carr presented each of the three organizations with their Certificate of Appreciation at a recent event hosted by the World Trade Center Tacoma. L-R: Nicholas Carr, James Newman of Tacoma Community College, Dennis Morris of SAFE Boats International, Diane Mooney of U.S. Commercial Service Seattle, Jason Lollar of Lollar Guitars, Inc.

U.S. Rep. Kilmer’s District Representative Nicholas Carr presented each of the three organizations with their Certificate of Appreciation at a recent event hosted by the World Trade Center Tacoma. L-R: Nicholas Carr, James Newman of Tacoma Community College, Dennis Morris of SAFE Boats International, Diane Mooney of U.S. Commercial Service Seattle, Jason Lollar of Lollar Guitars, Inc.

Three small Tacoma-area organizations prove that it is possible to look beyond U.S. borders and succeed in the global marketplace. The World Trade Center Tacoma, the U.S. Commercial Service, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer’s office recently recognized Tacoma Community College, Lollar Guitars, Inc., and SAFE Boats International with a U.S. Commercial Service Certificate of Appreciation for the positive impact these organizations have had on their community through exporting and international operations, and promotion of local jobs.

SAFE Boats International

SAFE Boats International, based in Bremerton, Wash., designs and builds aluminum boats that are used by military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue agencies worldwide. The company’s international sales account for 30 percent of total revenues and provide jobs for approximately 200 of the firm’s 400 employees.

Before signing any international distribution contracts, the firm contacts the U.S. Commercial Service to conduct background checks on potential agents to help ensure that they have a solid reputation and meet the firm’s partnership requirements. “The U.S. Commercial Service has helped us to grow our international sales and build solid business expansion opportunities worldwide,” said SAFE Boats International Chief Executive Officer Dennis Morris. “We value this relationship as a true ‘force multiplier’.”

Lollar Guitars, Inc.

Tacoma-based Lollar Guitars is a small, family-owned firm that designs and manufactures pickups for electric, bass and steel guitars. The U.S. Commercial Service has assisted Lollar Guitars with export documentation and international payment issues, and helped identify valuable international networking opportunities for the firm. During the past 10 years, the firm’s exports to more than 30 countries have expanded to reach 20 percent of total sales.

Tacoma Community College
Tacoma Community College (TCC) works closely with the U.S. Commercial Service to develop new international student markets. “The [U.S. Commercial Service] has been a terrific resource for our college in introducing new partners and connecting us with in-country representatives in China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Mexico,” said James Newman, director of International Student Services at Tacoma Community College. Since 2009, TCC has expanded international student enrollment from 270 to 450 students, which in turn supports 11 full-time and 8 part-time employees. The local Tacoma economy also benefits from international student spending on goods and services, such as accommodations, food, and transportation. Community members in the College’s homestay program benefit from compensation of $625 per month.

Local Export Resources

It’s true that exporting can be more complicated than selling in the United States, and that’s where the U.S. Commercial Service can help. Our trade professionals are located in more than 100 U.S. cities and more than 75 countries to help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets. For more information, locate your closest U.S. Commercial Service office.

U.S. Commercial Service provides educational material and short how-to videos for firms interested in learning the basics of exporting.

Country Commercial Guides are another ITA resource for firms interested in exploring worldwide market opportunities. The guides provide information on market conditions, opportunities, regulations, and business customs for 125 nations.

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Startup Global starts local

October 12, 2017

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

By Tricia Van Orden, Deputy Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat

Philadelphia-area startups recently gathered at Temple University’s Fox School of Business for advice on going global with business. The Startup Global event, a partnership between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Global Innovation Forum, helps entrepreneurs and early-stage companies strategically plan for international business. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live beyond the U.S. borders, and modern technology has made it easier than ever to reach them. International business expert and attorneys offered some important lessons:

1. Start with what you know and leverage others’ knowledge. Whether it’s tapping into big data from online platforms to gain market insights or scheduling a meeting with a business counselor at a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), you don’t have to do it all. A plethora of online tools and community resources are available to help startups and small business find success in international markets. The U.S. Government, and in many areas, State and local governments, offers free training and counseling to develop an international business plan and get started doing business globally. A great starting point is your local SBDC.

If your startup or small business has done business in one or two foreign markets and you’re interested in finding new opportunities and expanding sales, contact your local USEAC.

2. Know when to seek the counsel of a lawyer you trust. International business can be complicated, and you need to ensure your ideas, trademarks, and copyrights are protected and that you’re compliant with U.S. and international laws. Professional legal guidance will help you find the right path. Until you’re ready for that step, peruse the intellectual property information available on export.gov.  Another resource is the Export Legal Assistance Network, a network of attorneys who volunteer their time to provide an initial legal consultation free of charge to new exporters to assist with issues related to export licensing, taxation, tariffs, and intellectual property.

3. It’s never too late to go back to school.  Your campus days might be over, but local universities and community colleges often provide opportunities for business expansion. You might find your next partner or investor at networking event, and many schools offer international immersion programs that can broaden your global mindset and help you make connections in markets of interest. At many business schools, students team up with local companies to conduct market research and develop market entry strategies.  Companies interested in exporting can take advantage of these cooperative agreements and receive market research products either free of charge or for a very low fee.

If you are interested in hosting a Startup Global event in your city, please contact Pat Kirwan  from the Department of Commerce or Jake Colvin from the Global Innovation Forum.

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Showcasing our strengths at Discover Global Markets

September 29, 2017

By Jason Lindesmith, Acting Director, Communications, U.S. Field, U.S. Commercial Service

Attendees listen as Erin Walsh, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service delivers remarks on Sept. 18 in Cleveland.

Attendees listen as Erin Walsh, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service delivers remarks on Sept. 18 in Cleveland.

Last week in Cleveland, more than 350 participants attended U.S. Commercial Service’s showcase forum, Discover Global Markets: U.S. Manufacturers to Europe and Beyond.

Discover Global Markets (DGM) events highlight the unique strengths of the U.S. Commercial Service and its global network. U.S. government trade experts representing more than 16 international markets, and dozens of industry experts descended on Cleveland to help hundreds of small businesses establish and grow their exports.

One of the keynote speakers, Erin Walsh, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, addressed the crowd to stress the importance of free and fair trade in expanding U.S. exports:

“The International Trade Administration and its U.S. Commercial Service plays a unique role in connecting both large and small U.S. companies to trading partners around the world,” Erin said. “Our Commercial Specialists around the globe thrive on providing the personal touch for our clients. We help U.S. businesses succeed in trade through customized solutions, from how to get your products through customs to commercial diplomacy such as breaking down barriers to entry.”

So how does the DGM agenda showcase the strengths of the U.S. Commercial Service?

U.S. Commercial Service staff from the International Trade Administration offered clients personal attention and held over 290 one-on-one counseling sessions with U.S. companies, helping them develop strategies for international growth. These sessions included staff representing more than 16 international markets from our global network of trade and policy professionals.

Where else can you receive one-on-one feedback from in-country experts from around the world without needing to travel overseas?

In addition, DGM demonstrated our extensive domestic contacts across U.S. manufacturing industries – more than 50 meetings between manufacturing original equipment manufacturers and prospective small business suppliers took place at the event. Breaking into global supply chains can provide small businesses the opportunity to sell into many global markets within a short time.

The next DGM event will be held in Kansas City, Mo. in April 2018 and will focus on design and construction sectors.

I encourage you to subscribe to the DGM e-mail list for any updates as the next event comes together. I look forward to seeing you there so you can take advantage of the U.S. Commercial Service’s strengths on display!

 

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Help Us Plan the 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit

September 19, 2017

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

By Fred Volcansek, Executive Director, SelectUSA

It’s already that time of year again: our team is gearing up for the next SelectUSA Investment Summit. On June 20-22, 2018, the SelectUSA team will join thousands of international business investors, economic developers, and service providers at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center to convene the highest-level event of its kind in the United States.

Photo from the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 18-20, 2017. Pictured (from left to right): Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle; Gilbert Lee, CFO, Fuling Global, Inc.; Greg Scheu, President, ABB Americas Region; Ludwig Willisch, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, BMW (U.S.) Holding Corp.

Photo from the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 18-20, 2017. Pictured (from left to right): Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle; Gilbert Lee, CFO, Fuling Global, Inc.; Greg Scheu, President, ABB Americas Region; Ludwig Willisch, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, BMW (U.S.) Holding Corp.

This past June, SelectUSA held its largest Investment Summit yet. Hosted by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and headlined by Secretaries Alexander Acosta (Labor), Steven T. Mnuchin (Treasury), and Rick Perry (Energy), as well as the UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, the 2017 Summit brought more than 2,800 international participants together. The 79,000-sq.-ft. Exhibition Hall was filled to capacity with economic development organizations from 51 U.S. states and territories. CEOs from prominent U.S. and foreign companies participated in armchair discussions and breakout sessions to discuss the latest developments in FDI. I encourage you to read my summary blog post here for more details.

Of course, none of this happened overnight; planning for this important event is neither quick nor simple. Our team spends many months fine-tuning and developing ideas into reality. We are dedicated to bringing high quality discussions and influential thought leaders and executives to the Summit every year. Next year will be no exception, and we want to ensure that it is not only relevant, but full of information that can be instantly used to increase investment in the United States.

The SelectUSA team is planning the plenary and breakout sessions, Investment Academy, Exhibition Hall, and more. There are a lot of exciting developments in the pipeline, but we want you to be involved as well! Indeed, much of the content of previous Summits came from proposals from our stakeholders and partners across the fields of economic development and FDI.

So, we want to hear from you. What are your ideas for topics that should be covered? Do you have a speaker in mind? Is there a subject that needs to be included? The Call for Proposals is live; let us know what should be included in the program.

Additionally, we are looking to fill the Summit events calendar with collateral and spin-off events, hosted by our friends in the economic development community. These events are often where new job-creating investments begin, and we want to build on the success of last year’s calendar. SelectUSA welcomes your input and we want to make the 2018 Summit our best yet.

For more information on the SelectUSA Investment Summit, please visit www.selectusasummit.us.