Keeping up With Global Trade and International Market Opportunities
By SBE Council at 8 June, 2014, 10:24 am
Resources and Experts to Follow on Twitter
by Karen Kerrigan-
World Trade Month 2014 has come and gone, but entrepreneurs and small business owners can stay abreast of global market opportunities and training resources almost every minute through social media. As the U.S. Commerce Department revamps its National Export Initiative (NEI) initiative – called NEI Next – there are many services and programs offered at the national, state and local level that entrepreneurs can tap into for free, or at a reasonable fee. Even if your current business plans do not call for immediate international expansion, why not begin to explore potential markets and “how to go global” steps? Proactive research and preparation will give your business a leg up on navigating the global marketplace once you are ready, or if an opportunity comes along unexpectedly.
International markets are becoming increasingly important for the growth of small firms. Already, small to mid-size firms are quite active in the global marketplace, which drives economic and job growth. Total trade equaled 44 percent of U.S. economic growth from 2000 to 2013.
According to the International Trade Administration:
• A record 302,000 U.S. companies exported goods in 2011, nearly 98 percent of which (295,594) in 2011 were small or medium-sized companies (SMEs) with fewer than 500 employees.
• SMEs were responsible for 33 percent of goods exports in 2011.
• Of manufacturers, 97 percent were small and medium-sized firms, accounting for 19 percent of sector’s export value.
• Of firms engaging in trade, 83,050 both exported and imported merchandise in 2011. Of these, 78,590 (or 94.6 percent) were SMEs.
• SMEs accounted for 97 percent (178,820) of identified importers in 2011.
See the ITA information here.
With 96 percent of potential consumers living outside of the United States, clearly there is significant opportunity for small businesses.
Twitter can act as your news feed for everything global, and here are some handles to start following right now:
— ITA (@TradeGov) June 4, 2014
International Trade Administration (ITA): A U.S. government resource for export promotion, industry competitiveness, trade and investment information. Housed in the U.S. Department of Commerce, ITA overseas the National Export Initiative; helps businesses go global; provides information, training materials/content/newsletters and trade mission opportunities; and direct services in a number of areas to assist businesses that operate in the global marketplace. U.S. Commercial Service is ITA’s trade promotion arm, which has trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 countries helping U.S. companies get started in exporting, or to increase sales in new global markets. You can search for country and region specific U.S. Commercial Service twitter accounts to keep up-to-date with news and opportunities in those areas of the globe. For example: @FCSChina @Export2Europe @Promote USA (the ASEAN) @US_CS_Morocco
You can find ITA on Facebook here.
— ExportGov (@ExportGov) May 16, 2014
Export.gov: This is the official export promotion site of the U.S. Government that helps U.S. firms export. Receive updates on training webinars, trade success stories, important data/statistics, trade missions and more. You can also “explore exporting” at the U.S. Small Business Administration here, which links through to helpful resources, including specific topics on the ITA and Export.gov site. You can also find your closest U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) to receive technical assistance and support. Most of the USEACs are also on Twitter, such as @SeattleUSEAC @CSVirginiaDC @CSBoston @CSHarlemNYC and more.
You can find Export Gov on Facebook here.
— USTR (@USTradeRep) June 4, 2014
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR): @USTradeRep alerts followers on the latest activities of the USTR, including the progress of trade agreements, enforcement agreements, as well as data, studies and news about global trade. The USTR is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries. The head of USTR is the U.S. Trade Representative, a Cabinet member who serves as the president’s principal trade advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade issues. See USTR’s small business page here, as well as the online Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tariff Tool, which can be accessed here. This online resource streamlines tariff information for 85 percent of goods going to the 20 foreign markets that the U.S. has negotiated trade agreements with.
— Export-Import Bank (@EximBankUS) June 6, 2014
Export-Import Bank of the United States: Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States. “Ex-Im Bank’s mission is to assist in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. Ex-Im Bank enables U.S. companies, both large and small, to turn export opportunities into real sales that help to maintain and create U.S. jobs and contribute to a stronger national economy.” Ex-Im’s tweets keep followers up-to-date on broad developments in trade, Administration initiatives and specific news that relate to their services.
— Laurel Delaney (@LaurelDelaney) June 6, 2014
Laurel Delaney, President, GlobeTrade: Laurel’s company helps small businesses and entrepreneurs go global. GlobeTrade’s mission: “To make going global easy by giving you the tools, resources, and knowledge you need.” Laurel released a new book “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably,” and participated in a SBE Council “Business Success Strategies Q&A” which can be found here.
— The Global IP Center (@globalIPcenter) May 30, 2014
The Global International Property Center (GIPC) of the U.S. Chamber: GIPC works “to champion IP rights as vital to creating jobs, saving lives, advancing economic growth and generating breakthrough solutions to global challenges.” Obviously, entrepreneurs are concerned about protecting their IP, and those concerns increase when selling or looking to sell abroad. GIPC works to strengthen IP. Tweets will keep you appraised of IP developments at home and abroad as well as efforts to embed strong IP provisions within international trade agreements.
You can find GIPC on Facebook here.
Many states support and host assistance centers and programs dedicated to helping small businesses export. For example, Virginia (@VirginiaExports) and Florida (@EnterpriseFL) have robust programs, as do most states. SBE Council is building out a state resource map that will be unveiled in the near future. For now, check with the economic development arm of your state and local government, or local chamber of commerce to see what type of programs and assistance may be provided.
We’re traveling the state with our international consultants this week! Will we see you in NOVA, Charlottesville, or Norfolk?
— VEDP International (@VirginiaExports) May 19, 2014
Go Global and GROW
Small businesses that are engaged in global markets grow faster, and innovate in ways that benefit their domestic business. The range of technological tools that have enabled efficiency and market outreach for entrepreneurs, a surging middle class throughout the world, and strong demand for American-made products, amount to enormous opportunities for U.S. businesses. Currently, the U.S. has 20 trade agreements with other countries and several other major trade pacts are in the works. The world is becoming smaller and more connected, which means small businesses have the opportunity to grow much bigger by fully engaging in the global marketplace.