Posts Tagged ‘Europe’


Smoothing Over Connections for Your Cosmetics Business: Cosmoprof Trade Show

February 21, 2014

Elisa Martucci and Tony Michalski are Commercial Specialists focusing on the European cosmetics market.

Are you looking to increase sales for your cosmetics business? The U.S. cosmetics industry is increasingly finding new customers overseas, achieving $10 billion in exports in 2013. That’s a 10 percent increase from 2012.

We expect companies to continue finding success overseas — especially in the European markets.

One way you can find and capitalize on opportunities in the cosmetics industry is by joining us at Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna, Italy this April.

Our Commercial Service specialists will be at the show to help you take full advantage – finding the best possible business opportunities and qualified potential partners. We can give you information about current market situations, issues important to your business, and key opportunities for your business around the world.

With our help, you can put every minute of time spent at the event to the best possible use.

We want to help you make the best of your business! You can register for the Cosmoprof Worldwide trade show,and be sure to let us help you get the full makeover for your business!

If you have any questions about Cosmoprof or support from the Commercial Service, please feel free to contact one of us, Elisa Martucci or Tony Michalski. Or you can always contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.


Cosmetics Make for Beautiful Exports!

December 5, 2013

Elisa Martucci is a Commercial Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service, based in Rome, Italy.

Data show that U.S. exports in cosmetics and beauty products have increased every year since 2009, from $8.1 billion to $10.4 billion.

Data show that U.S. exports in cosmetics and beauty products have increased every year since 2009.

The beauty of U.S. cosmetics isn’t just in the eye of the beholder; it’s also in the eye of the economy. Cosmetics and beauty products are significant contributors to American exports and support jobs throughout the country.

U.S. exports of cosmetics products have increased every year since 2009, and the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service wants to help more American businesses in this sector find success overseas.

One way we’re helping is by hosting a series of webinars on how businesses in the cosmetics and beauty products industry can increase their exports to Europe. We hosted webinars for 33 companies looking to do business in the Nordic region and Eastern Europe, and we have another webinar focusing on Western Europe on Dec. 11.

Our specialists based throughout the continent help businesses like yours increase exports every day. We can provide unmatched provide insight into the European market, including:

  • European distribution channels;
  • Insights on sales and marketing;
  • Guidance on regulations, including labeling and documentation;
  • And opportunities to promote your products.

Our commercial specialists all over the United States are also available all year to help your company compete in Europe and in markets all over the world.

You may have never considered taking your products overseas before, but I hope you’ll contact our team to learn about opportunities to help your business grow by competing overseas. Cosmetics and beauty products exports were more than $9.5 billion in 2012, and we’re on pace to beat that in 2013.

We want your business to be among those that are increasing exports, finding new markets, enjoying greater profits, and supporting growth.

Register now for our Dec. 11 webinar, or contact your nearest Export Assistance Center today!


ITA’s Transparency in Government Procurement Workshop Series Draws Crowds and Press in Southeast Europe

July 15, 2013
ITA's Adam Boltik presents on public procurement best practices in Bulgaria.

ITA’s Adam Boltik presents on public procurement best practices in Bulgaria.

In recent years, U.S. companies doing business in Southeast Europe have sought assistance on issues related to certifications, lack of transparency in tender announcements, discriminatory time limitations and the use of dumping prices. As Southeast Europe stands to benefit from over 50 billion Euro (approximately $65 billion) in EU funding in the 2014-2020 cycle, government procurement will be a driving force for these economies. Eradicating corruption and guaranteeing fairness is in the vital interest of U.S. exporters competing for these opportunities, but for these countries, as well, since future economic development will depend on spending the resources wisely.

I recently had the opportunity to accompany a Department of Commerce delegation that traveled to Southeast Europe to co-host a series of workshops on Transparency in Government Procurement. The International Trade Administration (ITA) partnered with the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, and Bulgaria’s Public Procurement Agency in organizing the workshops, which drew an audience of government officials and members of the business community from around Southeast Europe. The workshops, held in June in Athens, Greece and Sofia, Bulgaria, helped shine a light on obstacles to fair competition in government procurement in Southeast Europe and gave the U.S. Government the chance to engage with the governments of Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania on this topic.

Here at ITA, we take pride in promoting favorable business environments in foreign markets to level the playing field for American business. To support this effort, the workshops in Southeastern Europe focused on best practices in government procurement, and how the procurement processes of the United States federal government comply with international obligations.

The Commerce team reached out to over 200 individuals from the public and private sectors. In Bulgaria, there was wide coverage of the event in 12 different print and electronic news outlets.

The workshop series served as a platform for raising private sector concerns, from both a regional and U.S. company perspective, and it increased awareness of the rights to businesses and the obligations on public sector actors to ensure that U.S. exporters have the opportunities they deserve under the WTO’s GPA. Additionally, the information we gained in our discussions with foreign government officials and from U.S. exporters looking to be active in the Southeast Europe region will directly feed into our Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations as we look to provide even greater opportunities to compete on a fair playing field for U.S. companies.

If you are interested in the information provided during the workshops, you can find the presentations on the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria’s website.

If your company has experienced a trade barrier, please use the Trade Compliance Center’s online complaint form to let us know so we can help.


U.S. Sock Maker Pedals Through Trials to Reach Global Markets

July 31, 2012

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

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the Trade Information Center, U.S. Commercial Service within the International Trade Administration.

Shane Cooper is president of DeFeet International, a maker of cycling and other socks in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He’s a client of the Charlotte Export Assistance Center.  Over the years and despite substantial adversity, he has built the business that now includes distributors in 35 countries.  I chatted with him during his trip to Washington to receive the Presidential “E” Award for excellence in exporting.

Barry:  Tell us what you make and how DeFeet started.  Where did you get the idea?

Gerd Klose, Managing Director of DeFeet's distributor in Germany Lynn Moretz, VP International Sales and Shane Cooper, founder of DeFeet display their products during the Eurobike show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. (Photo DeFeet)

Gerd Klose, Managing Director of DeFeet’s distributor in Germany Lynn Moretz, VP International Sales and Shane Cooper, founder of DeFeet display their products during the Eurobike show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. (Photo DeFeet)

Cooper:  My wife and I were bike racers back in the early ’90s.  And in the summertime, she was supplementing her income by racing bikes as an amateur and I was spending her supplemental income as an amateur on my bike racing.  And my father was a sock knitting machine technician and sold the parts.  And so I grew up in the sock industry.  And I was a cyclist.  One day, I decided to make socks to pay for my racing.  It just kind of happened from there.  We made the world’s best sock for cycling and that was 20 years ago.

Barry:  Is that a pair of your socks on your feet?

Cooper:  Absolutely.  This is the Peloton, made of merino wool.  And if you notice, there’s a group of cyclists.  And the yellow jersey’s right there. And “peloton” is a group of cyclists.

Barry:  Tell us your biggest challenge in going international.  You had this great background and created the product.  But very few U.S. businesses go outside the country looking for customers.

Cooper:  It happened by chance.  We created product that world-class cyclists were taking over to Europe.  And we had this product on their feet.  So there was a desire from the customer before we had international distribution.  And so our brand grew from there.  Cycling in Europe is tremendous in size, similar to American baseball and football.  I was struggling myself, not being a true businessman.  And I met this wonderful man, Lynn Moretz, who came into our company and became my mentor and helped us capitalize on this desire that we had created as a brand into a real business.  And so Lynn was able to take it into these countries and give structure behind the madness that I had created.

Barry:  Your product was transported by your U.S. customers and introduced to potential international buyers to where it really became a process and a strategy.

Copper:  Yeah, process and strategy, pricing structures, the advent of the Internet and what was going to play there and how it was going to actually work and these international customers over the course of the last 20 years were coming to our website, finding the product and going, “where can I get it”?  They would see it on the best riders in the world.  And they’re asking where they could get it.  I was too busy paying attention to R&D and the product to really focus on that.  And then Lynn came in and provided that structure to actually make it happen.

Barry:  What in your mind was the biggest challenge that you overcame and that your collaborator overcame in that area?

Cooper:  Well, unfortunately the year that my collaborator, Lynn Moretz, came to DeFeet, we burned down.  We lost everything we had – 2001, October, right after 9/11.  And so we had nine months of no production.

Barry:  That would be a crushing thing to happen for most people.  How did you manage to rise from the ashes, as it were?

Cooper:  I would like to say that I cut my hair off and used that to rebuild the building.  But I think the hair came off in the process somewhere.  We had insurance that covered the building, the equipment and the contents.  And then we had insurance for business loss, income loss, which turned into a court battle for three years.

Barry:  What happened next?

Cooper:  And so when we finally got the check, we had to pay taxes out of that money because it’s business income.  So for seven years – the first nine years of our business, we were profitable every year and growing organically.  The banks loved us – or the banks hated us because we actually paid the loans off too early. We had seven years where we made no money after the fire.  We became profitable again and started winning the business back.   OK, keep this in mind.  It’s 2008.  We’re profitable that year just in time for the worst economic downturn in world history that we know about, other than the Depression.  And the fortunate thing is that these bicycles were being pulled out of the garage and people were putting tires on it and commuting. And it made the bicycle shops flush with cash.  The dollar was going crazy with the euro. So all of a sudden, after seven years of struggling, we made it through.  And now, we’re four years in with profits again.

Barry:  Did international expansion save you?

Cooper:  If we didn’t have our international business, gosh, I don’t think we would have made it.

Barry:  So you and your wife are pretty persistent.  Do you think that persistence is a useful skill to have in the international marketplace?

Cooper:  I think persistence is something that you have to have to be in business in any country.  In my opinion, it may come from the bike racing that we did that hardened us and toughened us up.  And we’re not quitters.  We could have shut our plant down and moved it to Asia and had socks made over there.  But we decided to stay put.  We never missed a pay period with our employees.  And we buy local yarn and boxes.  So even though we’re only 38 employees now, the benefit is pretty widespread when we buy locally.

Barry:  Why not outsource to China?  Wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run?

Cooper:  Cheaper – that’s a good word. I prefer the word value.  And what we prefer to use that word value is for long-lasting goodness, affordable price and a sock that’s going to last 10 years.  I don’t like the homogenization of other sock brands making their product in the same plant that I’m making mine in and all of a sudden my trade secrets are gone.  I don’t like the environmental issue. I don’t like the lead in the toys, the drywall issues with radioactive materials and the lunch boxes with the toxic waste in them.  You hit a nerve there.  And so American-made to me is control.  It’s American jobs.  It’s quality, and mostly it’s value.

Barry:  And when did the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Commercial Service in particular come into the story?

Cooper:  Anytime we have a question about a tariff, or when we’re dealing with Australia and we’re not sure what to do, or a new free trade (agreement), or some new idea comes up, we call the (Export Assistance Center) office in Charlotte.  Then there are international textile agreements and an understanding of how the sock is structured with what material and where the fibers come from and what category it fits in.  You guys have been a great help there.  You’ve got to remember, I was a dumb bike racer, a bad one at that.  I wasn’t a businessman.

Barry:  Have you learned things from your customers in Europe that you’ve been able to apply to your products that have helped you sell other places?

Cooper:  We get input from the word’s best riders.  Paolo Bettini, the Italian national champion, Olympic champion – sat down with me and we had a translator on what he needed in a sock. We then listened to him and made that sock available to the public.  So we used the world’s best cyclists to develop the sock, like astronauts, and then we took it to their fan base.

Barry:  Is it a trade secret or can you tell us what he told you?

Cooper:  That is a trade secret.

Barry:  Can you share some advice with us for other companies that are thinking about exporting?

Cooper:  My advice is figure out what your strengths are.  Use every available government agency’s help as well to really make your life a lot easier.  If you don’t have the skills or time to so the international, hire someone who can do it.


Help Make Exporting To the European Union Easier – Seeking Comments on US-EU Regulatory Cooperation

July 11, 2011

Have you experienced challenges in exporting to the European Union (EU)?  Do you have any ideas for making it easier to export to the EU by enhancing U.S.-EU regulatory cooperation?  If so, we want to hear from you.  In response to requests for additional time to provide comments, the Department of Commerce has reopened the comment period for its Federal Register Notice, “Request for Public Comments Concerning Regulatory Cooperation between the United States and the European Union That Would Help Eliminate or Reduce Unnecessary Divergences in Regulation and in Standards Used in Regulation That Impede U.S. Exports”.

The United States Department of Commerce strives to eliminate differences in regulatory measures between the U.S. and the EU, while also promoting free and open trade as well as protecting public health and safety, the environment, intellectual property, and consumers’ rights. The Federal Register Notice is a medium where all associations, business, and individuals in U.S. and EU countries can voice their challenges and recommendations regarding regulatory divergences.  Your comments are important in assisting us to increase awareness of trade impediments and improve exporting between the U.S. and EU.

The new deadline for comments is August 8, 2011.

Comments may be submitted electronically via  You may also access the Docket Folder, where you can read comments that have already been submitted (check the box labeled “Public Submission”). While we appreciate and encourage discussion here on our blog, the only way to ensure consideration of your input is to submit comments through the form on

Please direct any questions to


80 U.S. Companies Test the European Market in Poland

April 23, 2009

Rochelle J. Lipsitz is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and the Director General of the U. S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

I am writing to you live from Warsaw, Poland, here with 80 U.S. companies at our third Annual Trade Winds Forum.

Did you know this year is the U.S.’s 90th year of diplomatic relations with Poland? It’s amazing to consider how far Poland has come since the years of Woodrow Wilson. Today, Poland’s economy is one of the best performers in Europe and, despite the global economic crisis, it is still growing at about 1% per annum, while many countries are still struggling. In addition to having a stable government and about $15 billion of U.S. investment, it serves as an anchor market for U.S. companies trying to sell to Central and Eastern Europe – which is why the U.S. Commercial Service and our clients are here.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Rochelle J. Lipsitz (left) with representatives from U.S. company Taking the Waters, a spa treatment company, at the Trade Winds Forum in Warsaw, Poland.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Rochelle J. Lipsitz (left) with representatives from U.S. company Taking the Waters, a spa treatment company, at the Trade Winds Forum in Warsaw, Poland. (U.S. Department of Commerce Photo)

Eighty U.S. companies have joined us to participate in more than 800 individual meetings with our Senior Commercial Officers from 28 U.S. Embassies across Europe who are giving them an individual assessment of sales opportunities in countries from Portugal to Kazakhstan. During the three meetings I have been able to observe so far, clients and Officers discussed market potential and how to find business partners. They compared notes on trade shows and discussed logistics. And, a lot of discussion focused on how to get paid – especially in our current credit crunch. Throughout these back-to-back, 20-minute counseling sessions – which looked a lot like speed dating – the company representatives were able to learn how their products would fare in various countries and the steps they should take to successfully enter the market. The room was just buzzing with energy! The goal is that the U.S. companies will walk away from these two days with a strategy for selling throughout Europe.

We don’t only want them to take home a strategy though, but business too. So we’ve also arranged nearly 400 meetings for the U.S. companies with Polish buyers and potential partners. Nearly 40% of the companies attending the Trade Winds Forum are repeat attendees who were at last year’s program in Istanbul, Turkey. Firms from that event reported dozens of export sales as a result of their meetings, and we look forward to the same great results this year.

When the event is done, the U.S. Commercial Service will have arranged nearly 1,200 meetings for these U.S. companies to help them increase their international sales! Why do we do this, you ask? Because increasing international sales stimulates our economy by creating higher-paying jobs at home.

I look forward to writing again about how the U.S. Commercial Service is helping U.S. companies sell overseas…. Maybe next time you’ll be here too!