Archive for the ‘Market Access and Compliance’ Category

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Ensure International Clients Can Find You – Website Globalization

July 27, 2016

Michael Waters is an International Trade Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service office in Atlanta

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

In this digital age, a website is a necessity for any business of any size across all industries. A company’s website speaks about the organization and should be viewed by management as a virtual introduction of products and services offered to prospective customers.

However, working with international customers presents its own unique set of circumstances, especially when it comes to websites. For example, is there a link for international sales inquiries on your company’s website? And if so, what details are you requesting? What does your site look like on a mobile device or when translated into a foreign language? These are a few questions that every organization needs to consider when designing a website that offers a product or service for international customers.

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Ensuring your company’s website is user-friendly can attract customers from abroad.

Globalizing your company’s website does not have to be overly technical. This article will provide a few easily implementable suggestions that anyone can apply, with the ultimate goal of increasing international sales.

One of the simplest steps a company can take to attract international clients is to ensure that foreign visitors know your company is interested and open for business. But you need to have more than just an “international sales” email address listed on the “Contact Us” page. While a direct email address is an important feature, having a specific page dedicated to International Inquiries is a best practice. Be sure that the information collected there is relevant, like removing ZIP codes and correct formatting of telephone numbers or addresses. An open field text box is generally a good way to go.

We also live in a world with a growing mobile workforce. Your company’s web presence should be mobile compatible. Not only is it an important aspect for international business, it also makes sense for your domestic customers as well.  Google reports that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they if had trouble accessing it (McKinsey 2014). Work with your website service provider to ensure mobile compatibility is enabled, works properly, and that the content is limited to the most important information.

Turning now to search engines: Most of us domestically use Google or Bing, and there may even be a few still using Yahoo!. But does your company consider international search engines? Ever heard of Baidu, Yandex or Naver? If your sales team is trying to attract customers from China, Russia, or South Korea, then these need to be on your radar. According to ReturnOnNow.com, in 2015 Baidu had an impressive 55% share of all internet searches in China, with Yandex capturing 58% of the Russian market, and Naver with more than 77% of South Korean online searches . While Google maintains the majority share in Japan, Yahoo! Japan maintains 40% of internet searches. When targeting a specific market or region of the world, ensure that your company will be found when customers come looking by registering your company’s site map with the search engines in your target markets.

Speaking of site maps: Does your company’s webpage have one? A site map is an XML file that search engines use to “read” what is on your webpage and impacts where your company is listed on a search results page. If looking to grow your visibility internationally, it is important for your company to register the site map with popular search engines used in local markets. Site maps also exist as HTML files and can allow for quick navigation – important for customers in a developing market accessing the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Finally, companies may be tempted to translate webpages to attract international customers. While this is logical, it is important to do so properly, generally by professional translation firms. Your website should be free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. However, translation services can also be an expensive investment, especially if you translate your entire website; therefore, including a Google Translate link can be a more affordable option. If mistakes are made, an international visitor will know that it is most likely due to the translation software, and not the company. If your company has a few target markets, we recommend translating an introduction page (often a combination of the home page and “about us” page) so that foreigners from those markets can find your website when searching in their native language.

While these might seem like small details, they can make a lasting impression on a potential international customer, and result in a sale. With 95% of the world’s population outside of the United States,  it is important that your website reflects your interest in international business. Your local U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center and Trade Specialist can help ensure that your international web presence works to assist your international expansion. Visit www.export.gov to find your local office and for additional information.

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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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Connecting the Internship Dots: Bridging the Gap between Academics and Real Practice

September 4, 2014

Aileen Yang recently completed an internship with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade Agreements, Negotiations, and Compliance. She is a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies located in Monterey, California. 

Aileen Yang

Aileen Yang

Are you enthralled by the world of trade policy? Are you driven for a career in international trade?  If so, an internship at the ITA’s Office of Trade Agreements, Negotiations, and Compliance (TANC) is the ideal place for someone who is passionate about international trade to become a part of an expert team of trade specialists dedicated to helping U.S. industries maximize their benefits from trade.

TANC is a part of the wider ITA Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC) Program that actively monitors and investigates our trading partners’ enforcement and compliance with trade agreements in order to ensure U.S. industries are provided a fair trading environment.

I had the pleasure of interning at TANC this summer. This afforded me the opportunity to work with a team of trade specialists who uniquely and directly work with private industry to resolve foreign government-imposed trade barriers related to government procurement, technical barriers, and border barriers, among others, they may be facing. I was fortunate enough to have found TANC’s webpage during my internship search and was delighted to learn the office was recruiting interns. I submitted my application materials, was contacted for a telephone interview shortly thereafter, and was eventually offered a summer internship with TANC, which I ecstatically accepted.

During my internship at TANC, I worked with the Trade Agreements team. Among my tasks, I assisted in writing talking points for government-to-government meetings and a WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade meeting; assisted in researching legislation to address foreign government concerns about U.S. state-level government procurement requirements; and assisted in compiling a statistical report to be submitted to the WTO Government Procurement Committee and will be used by U.S. negotiators to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. All of the work I was assigned was used to help real industries resolve real trade problems.

This internship provided me the invaluable opportunity to learn from and work with trade policy experts in a fast-paced and demanding field that cannot be obtained in a classroom. Where else would I have gotten the opportunity to write talking points for a senior-level official to deliver at a WTO meeting amongst delegates from all over world? More importantly, these talking points were used in ITA’s on-going efforts to engage our trading partners in remedying government-imposed regulations that put U.S. businesses at a disadvantage overseas.

Interning at TANC has strengthened my resolve to continue my studies for a career in international trade policy, and there is no doubt that I have chosen the right career path to head towards. Not only did I get to practice the tools I learned in my studies, I was able to witness first-hand how trade policy experts help the private sector ensure they can maximize their benefits from our trade laws and agreements. If you are exploring a career in international trade, apply for an internship at TANC and learn what the office has to offer.

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Beyond the Border: United States and Canada Enhance Their Trade Relationship

July 29, 2014

Isabel Sackner-Bernstein is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She is studying Strategic Communication at Elon University.

The United States and Canada share more than just a border, and I’m not talking about the dual citizenship of famous pop star, Justin Bieber. The two countries share common values, deep links among their citizens, and deeply rooted economic ties.

To improve this already strong relationship, President Obama and Primer Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border initiative (BTB) in 2011. BTB programs, developed by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will create effective solutions to manage the flow of traffic across our shared borders. The BTB initiative has already helped U.S. travelers and businesses by reducing wait times at the border.

These reduced wait times will also support our trade relationship, reducing the time and cost of shipping goods across the border.

One of the programs linked to this initiative is the NEXUS program. It allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay across the border from Canada or the United States. NEXUS membership has increased by nearly 50 percent since BTB’s announcement in 2011, and NEXUS enrolled its one-millionth member in July 2014.

NEXUS isn’t the only BTB program that is making the U.S.-Canada border crossing easier and more secure. Below are a few of the BTB accomplishments to date:

 So why does the BTB initiative matter to you or your company? Here are some key facts about the U.S.-Canada relationship that help explain the importance of BTB:

The United States and Canada have the largest trading relationship in the world. More than $1 billion in trade cross our shared border each day;

  • Canada is one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in the U.S. economy and vice versa; and,
  • More than 350,000 people cross our shared border each day for work, school, tourism, and to visit family and friends.

Now imagine all those people and products crossing the border every day. BTB is working to make that journey easier for thousands of people so that trade and travel can flourish in both the United States and Canada.

We look forward to the BTB initiative helping Canada become an even more attractive market for U.S. exporters! If you’re ready to explore Canada as a potential market, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center!

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Making It Easier to Clear Customs in Latin America

April 10, 2014

Diana Alvarez recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

More than 40 percent of current U.S. exports go to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Both its geographic proximity and the presence of 11 free trade agreements in the region make these markets attractive for U.S. businesses.

As the U.S. government continues to support businesses expanding in Latin America through the Look South Initiative, one key aspect being addressed is working through potential barriers to trade.

Issues like long customs-clearance times, inconsistent interpretation of customs regulations, and subjectivity of customs inspectors can add to the time and cost of the exporting process. These costs can especially affect small business exporters.

To address these problems, the International Trade Administration is working alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection, governments across Latin America, and other public and private sector partners on the Customs Modernization and Border Management Reform Program.

This program brings business and government together to discuss the challenges faced at the border and to develop solutions that will make clearing customs easier, faster, and more efficient.

The program began in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras and has already helped create a simpler and more efficient border-crossing process:

  • Honduras extended its operating hours at many border posts and harmonized them across the many different border agencies.
  • El Salvador eliminated several administrative requirements for express shipments, saving companies time and money.
  • Costa Rica recently launched its one-stop web portal that will allow companies and government agencies to submit and review all customs-related documents in one place.

As part of a second phase of the program, training workshops and dialogues were held in Peru and the Dominican Republic in March, with events in Guatemala and Uruguay scheduled to take place soon.

We’re excited to see more businesses expand to Latin America under the Look South Initiative, and we look forward to being a part of a smoother trade process under the Customs Modernization and Border Management program.

If you’re ready to increase your business’s presence in Latin America, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center or visit export.gov/looksouth.

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Unraveling Global Aerospace Safety Regulations

March 12, 2014

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Fred Elliot is a Trade Specialist with the Aerospace Team at the International Trade Administration

Have you ever wondered what a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement is and how it can help speed the shipment of U.S. civil aircraft parts to customers overseas? What are “special requirements” other countries have on U.S. exports of civil aircraft parts and how can U.S. suppliers learn about them? What is an “export certificate of airworthiness” and when are U.S. aerospace exporters required to use it? If your response is: “The FAA requires it.”, then you share a common misconception that can be solved through lessons from the International Trade Administration.

These and other questions will be addressed during the Practical Tips for Suppliers of Civil Aircraft and Aircraft Parts to Increase Exports seminar on March 20. The program will help current and future U.S. exporters understand the requirements of the FAA and aeronautical authorities overseas in relation to U.S. civil aerospace exports. James Showman, FAA’s International Policy Branch manager, will be the featured speaker. Other speakers include ITA trade specialists who will be available to meet with individual seminar participants in person or by phone.

This event is being organized in cooperation with the Ohio Aerospace Institute, an ITA partner through the Market Development Cooperator Program. Additional details, including the program agenda and registration application, are available through the Ohio Aerospace Institute
.

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NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide Brings State-of-the-Art Air Traffic Management to Global Clients

September 11, 2013

Jonathan Alvear, an international trade specialist with the Office of Transportation and Machinery in the International Trade Administration, is the author of The NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration has launched a new tool connecting U.S. providers of air traffic management technologies and related services to potential clients across the globe.

The NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide directs users to U.S. manufacturers of Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) technologies that meet the requirements laid out by the United Nations’ International Aviation Organization (ICAO) as well as to related knowledge and service providers.

The Guide:

  • is a web-based resource that addresses current and expected needs regarding air traffic management, airspace capacity, flight path efficiency, enhanced communications and data exchanges, and operational improvements to the airport environment
  • is based primarily on the four Aviation System Block Upgrade (ASBU) performance improvement areas of airport operations, globally interoperable systems and data, optimum capacity and flexible flights, and efficient flight paths
  • also features the knowledge and service providers who can help implement these NextGen solutions and/or provide services and expertise that complement these upgrades.

Because the NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide is mapped to the ASBU requirements, users will have access to a comprehensive listing of the upgrades that ICAO will be formally endorsing this fall matched with links to the websites of the U.S. companies that can help customers fulfill those requirements.

Partnership and Cooperation

The NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide was created in cooperation with Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and companies such as:

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