Archive for the ‘U.S. Commercial Service’ Category

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

April 19, 2018

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

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

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

Exporter Assessments Point the Way Forward

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

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

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

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

New “Export Today” Emails Give You Tips for Success

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

Get Started Today on Export.gov

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

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

February 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Download this video.

How to Find New Foreign Export Markets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.