Archive for the ‘Export Assistance’ Category

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Commercial Service Officers travel through Northern California spreading the word about export opportunities in Asia

April 28, 2017

Susan Crawford is a Communications Specialist for the Pacific North Region at the International Trade Administration 

Do you know which Asia-Pacific nation has experienced 25 consecutive years of growth? Or which one has the world’s highest R&D investment per capita? Can you name the Asian powerhouse that recently liberalized its energy sector?

If you are an exporter from Northern California, and met a few of our senior commercial officers at one of several events last month, chances are you know the answers to these questions. Australia. Korea. Japan.

Asia is a such an important export market that the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) offices in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area jumped on the chance to host  six of the CS’s  Asia-based senior commercial officers for two days in Northern California.cali

The visiting officers were Doug Wallace from Sydney, Australia; Rosemary Gallant from Jakarta, Indonesia;  Andrew Wylegala from Tokyo, Japan; David  Gossack from Seoul, Korea; Catherine Spillman from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;  and Gregory Wong from Bangkok, Thailand. Each officer manages CS operations in their respective location. They were joined by Commercial Officer and Executive Director, Asia, James Golsen, based in Washington, D.C.

The CS’s network of more than 100 domestic and 75 international offices work closely together to provide U.S. companies with a full range of export-related services including trade counseling, market intelligence and business matchmaking.cali2

Through a series of presentations and networking events, the visiting officers educated local companies on the latest market trends and opportunities for U.S. products and services in their markets. The officers also toured Silicon Valley-based firms and witnessed the latest advances in U.S. manufacturing, biotech and artificial intelligence.

The CS Silicon Valley, San Rafael, San Francisco and Oakland offices organized a jam-packed agenda for the officers that included:

  • Presentations at an Asian Business Forum at Dominican University’s Barowsky School of Business in San Rafael, followed by networking with 15 North Bay firms, graduate students and faculty.
  • A reception with the Northern California District Export Council (DEC) and networking with 90 local companies (click here to learn more about the DEC’s mission to support the CS and promote exports).
  • A tour of Foster City-based Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical firm; and presentations and discussions on Asian market trends with Gilead, the California Life Sciences Association and five life science start-ups.
  • Facility tours and export presentations at San Jose-based Jabil Blue Sky Center, a contract manufacturing firm; Santa Clara-based NVIDIA, an artificial intelligence computing company; and Sunnyvale-based Plug and Play Tech Center, a global innovation incubator.

Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand are just a handful of potential export markets to consider. For information on opportunities in Asia and the rest of the world, please view our County Commercial Guides.

Click here to find the nearest CS domestic office to obtain assistance in developing a strategy to help turn your export goals into reality.

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Cross Border eCommerce Payment System Strategies

April 5, 2017

James Bledsoe is the Deputy Director of the eCommerce Innovation Lab based out of Tacoma, Washington.

eCommerce isn’t just the future – it is now. eCommerce issues currently shape the way businesses structure and strategize, and will continue to be a primary business factor for the foreseeable future.

The Return on Investment (ROI) for businesses that seriously pursue an eCommerce strategy varies– a business with up to $1 million in annual sales can realistically achieve a median annual sales growth rate of up to 137 percent as a result of its eCommerce efforts alone.

With eCommerce providing such lucrative potential ROI for many businesses, including a person on your team who has an idea of the “what” and “why” of the eCommerce process is essential.

One of the main eCommerce issues companies face, time and time again when handling cross-border eCommerce transactions is the payment process. With credit cards being the most common form of payment associated with these transactions, there are number of factors that can go into ensuring the process is as smooth as possible.

It’s important for businesses to:

  • Develop an understanding of rates and fees associated with card-based transactions;
  • Mitigate fraud risk through use of advanced security tools;
  • Employ a streamlined workflow for handling and fighting chargebacks; and,
  • Select the best payment gateway to ensure compliance and maximize ROI for their industry

To help you and other U.S. exporters to better understand the “what” and “why” of eCommerce payments, the U.S. Commercial Service will host a two-part webinar series titled “Cross Border eCommerce Payment System Strategies” on Tuesday, April 18, and Thursday, April 20, both at 1pm EST.

The webinar is hosted by the U.S. Commercial Service’s Vets Go Global Team and the eCommerce Innovation Lab and led by Ryan King of Guardian Payment Systems.  In Part One (April 18), Ryan will explain the technology behind the payment process – shopping carts vs gateways, along with card rates and strategies to optimize your processing fees.  In Part Two (April 20), Ryan will show you how to work with your funding bank on issues such as chargebacks and risk management, and explore the tools and resources that are different for processing international payments.

Click here to register for Part 1 (Tuesday, April 18, 1pm EST).

Click here to register for Part 2 (Thursday, April 20, 1pm EST).

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South Korea Submits Intent to Participate in Asia-Pacific Data Transfer Agreement: the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System

January 17, 2017

Michael Rose is a Policy Advisory in the Office of Digital Services Industries

Another country is making it easier for companies to transfer personal data across borders, while at the same time, raising privacy standards.

In January 2017, South Korea submitted its Intent to Participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) System.  The CBPR system facilitates commercial transfers of personal data across borders and raises privacy standards among the signatories by setting baseline data privacy practices for participating companies.  This facilitates trade and economic growth throughout the region by supporting supply chains and digital commerce in a critical region for U.S. exporters.

The expansion of the CBPR System across APEC builds consumer trust and reduces compliance costs for companies, which otherwise must rely on a myriad of compliance mechanisms. South Korea will become the fifth APEC Economy to participate in the data transfer agreement – joining the United States, Japan, Canada, and Mexico – once its application is finalized this year.  The CBPR System includes some of the largest companies in the United States including Apple, IBM, Merck, Cisco, and Hewlett Packard, which have raised global privacy standards in their companies by meeting APEC CBPR certification standards and registering with an approved APEC Accountability Agent.

“Korea offers significant market opportunity for American exporters,” Acting Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis Ted Dean said with the announcement. “Korea’s participation in the APEC CBPR System will promote digital trade, benefit companies in the United States and around the region, and drive uptake of higher privacy standards for consumers in the Asia-Pacific.”

The CBPR System continues to build international recognition as a mechanism to build confidence for consumers, businesses, and regulators in regional privacy practices.  The growth of the CBPR System advances interoperability between data transfer regimes and ensures strong privacy protections for consumers.

In November 2016 the Leaders of all 21 APEC Economies reiterated their commitment to open data flows and strengthening privacy protections.  The APEC CBPR System has become a template for creating a global solution to data transfer restrictions.

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Finding Foreign Buyers Through eCommerce Sales Channels

December 15, 2016

James Bledsoe is Deputy Director of the eCommerce Innovation Lab

eCommerce is the future of cross-border trade.  Most conservative estimates posit that ecommerce will be responsible for over 50 percent of all global sales by 2020; this percentage is even higher in the retail sector. Around the world, 95 percent of the global consumers hold 75 percent of the global purchasing power—is  your business in a position to connect with these online consumers?  With ecommerce sales, it is not so much about finding the buyers online, but rather finding out where it is online that the buyers can find you.

Before you invest heavily in an ecommerce market strategy, I and my office of the ecommerce Innovation Lab, part of the Department of Commerce, recommend that you should first take time to conduct basic research about the existing ecommerce market for your products or services.

[Download Video 18MB]

There are Country Commercial Guides available for you to use, as well as ecommerce-specific Country Briefs that will help you to Identify eCommerce Market Opportunities for your target markets.  There are many online tools to help you find out which market is right for you; for example, Google’s Market Finder can help translate keywords into target market languages to see their popularity by the relative values placed on them.

I also recommend that for your online business you should work on an ecommerce strategy:

  1. Objectives: What do you want your online presence to achieve? Are you looking for an active sale through your website, or are you educating the potential buyer for a more passive sale?
  2. Resources: What are your contingency options for sales? The return-on-investment (ROI) you put into building your consumer networks may be months away.
  3. Target Market and Audience: Who are your buyers? Businesses?  Young consumers?  This will determine how you will approach your online presence.
  4. Competitor Analysis: Who are your closest competitors? What makes them successful online?  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  5. Website Feature List: Create a simple mockup of what functions and abilities you want your site to have before you decide on a professional web developer to help you.

Next, you will want to Choose the Right Channel Mix of ecommerce sales channels to pursue in your target market to help you be found by the consumers you are targeting.  There are four general sales channels for ecommerce:

  • Your Own Website – you educate for a passive sale or actively process sales through your own website. This can be your US-based site, or a country-specific site through your web developer.
  • Online Marketplaces – Amazon, eBay, Baidu, Mercado Livre.
  • Third Party Distributor – they will sell your products through their website, utilizing their existing in-country sales and marketing networks.
  • Social Media – a great opportunity to establish a presence/brand, but be sure to use a local marketing firm that is aware of and sensitive to local culture and traditions.

I don’t recommend that you solely focus on one ecommerce sales channel, but rather choose the right mixture of sales channels for your business. For example,70 percent your own website, 20 percent online marketplaces, 10 percent social media; or 40 percent online marketplaces, 50 percent third party distributor, 10 percent social media, for example.  In other words, cast the widest (and smartest) net possible to establish yourself in online positions where your consumers frequently visit.

My best advice for businesses looking for online buyers, both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C), is to work with a local distributor to get established in that market.  Local partners have the existing marketing infrastructure that you don’t have to invest in, the existing customer networks that you don’t have to build, and most importantly, the local recognition and reputation that you don’t need to establish outside of your product/brand.  There are Matchmaking Services that our International Trade Specialists can assist you in finding the right in-country partner through our 85 overseas U.S. Embassy postings.  You should also consider contacting your nearest trained Global eCommerce Specialist for free counselling to help you develop your eCommerce strategy and guide you through the cross-border ecommerce landscape.

For more information on resources available to find reliable partners and foreign buyers, see the Exporting Basics videos on Finding Foreign Buyers.The videos discuss the many ways to find foreign buyers, including: using local sales representatives, taking advantage of customized exporting services, attending trade shows or trade missions, and connecting through ecommerce.

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Put Your Company at the Export Starting Gate

December 5, 2016

Country Commercial Guides Cover 97 Percent of World Economy Outside of the United States

By Curt Cultic, Senior Communications Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, International Trade Administration

So what’s new on the export horizon for your company? Perhaps it’s narrowing down your choice of a new market in which to export, finding the latest market intelligence, or looking for the best way to pursue market entry strategies. Whatever your needs, when conducting research on foreign markets, do what thousands of U.S. businesses do each year: start by checking out the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Country Commercial Guides (CCGs). Altogether, the CCGs cover markets representing 97 percent of global GDP outside of the United States.CCG

Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the U.S. Commercial Service, Arun Kumar today unveiled an expanded portfolio of U.S. Country Commercial Guides, designed to help U.S. companies doing business overseas. This year, 16 new countries, and a World Bank Commercial Guide have been added to the current CCG portfolio. Altogether, the more than 140 countries covered by the CCGs now represent 97 percent of global GDP outside of the United States.

“Made in America has a worldwide reputation,” said Kumar. “Greater access to cutting edge market intelligence is key to helping more U.S. exporters leverage new and emerging international opportunities.”

With the recent addition of 16 new countries, the CCGs now serve as a window into more than 140 foreign markets. Businesses will be able to gain insight into the latest intelligence on high-demand industry sectors – and also receive market-by-market economic overviews, selling techniques, investment climate considerations, trade financing options, and business travel advice and resources.

Since the CCGs are written by “boots-on-the-ground” U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals and U.S. State Department economic officers—all living and working in the country—you can be confident on getting accurate and up-to-date information on your market of interest.

Among the new country additions are the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Fiji, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Oman, Namibia, Qatar, Suriname, and Sri Lanka; as well as a number of sub-Saharan Africa countries: Chad, Sao Tome and Principe, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In addition, the new CCG portfolio also includes a World Bank Group Commercial Guide that provides insights into how World Bank-funded projects work, and how American firms, from prime contractors to subcontractors and suppliers, can identify and access opportunities in them.

By doing your homework first, you can avoid costly mistakes that could set your company back and cost valuable time and money. That’s critical in today’s competitive global economy where more than 95 percent of world consumers reside outside of U.S. borders.

On the website, businesses can also find out more about the global U.S. Commercial Service export assistance network of 108 offices across the United States, and in U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 75 countries.

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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.