The month of May is widely celebrated across the United States as World Trade Month. And by Presidential Proclamation, the United States celebrated World Trade Week, May 19th – 25th, 2013. In honor of World Trade Month, we highlight some of the resources that are becoming more widely available to support companies in doing business internationally.
Rule # 1: Know your International Destination
Country Commercial Guides prepared by the US Commercial Service to assist US businesses are excellent places to start. They provide a good overview for anyone, anywhere who is interested in a particular country. There is a guide for every country – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, except the United States.
For that information, a starting point is the BBC Country Profiles. They provide a more general but important overview of most countries, including the United States.
Most countries, even the poorest, have an Investment Promotion or Investment Support agency to attract and support investments in the country. Their purpose is to tell you why you should do business in that country. As a result, they focus on the country’s most positive attributes. More importantly, this will be a good source of information about incentive programs that may be available to you. The World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies provides a listing with links to its member agencies.
Here is a handy link to investment promotion agencies across Europe. For those interested in doing business in the United States, that information is available at the level of the states! SelectUSA.gov provides a handy link to each state’s investment promotion office and incentive programs. Some states maintain their own overseas presence in key countries, as well.
Resources for Exporters
Some countries, notably the major economies, have dedicated resources to support exporters. This is not surprising as the export of goods and services generates the revenue that a country needs to pay for its imports. Your country’s trade and investment agency is also a good source of this information. Or you may try the agency or department that supports commerce.
In the United States
Under the Obama Administration’s U.S. National Export Initiative, the United States has made increasing exports, in particular in a revitalized manufacturing sector, a top priority. Export.Gov provides a one-stop shop for US exporters.
BusinessUSA is an interactive online tool devoted to supporting small businesses and exporters. The site connects its users to the services and information that they need, regardless of where it may be located across the vast US bureaucracy. It is expected that federal agencies will continue to add their resources to the site so that it will eventually capture the full range of business programs and services.
BuyUSA.Gov is a resource to help link US companies and overseas buyers using the offices of the US Commercial Service. The US Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the US Department of Commerce and locates officers in US embassies and consulates to help US companies in those locations.
For more in-country support, there is probably an American Chamber of Commerce, or AmCham, in just about every country. AmChams are associations of firms and individuals involved in trade between the country and the United States.
Finally, the US Trade and Development Agency hosted a Twitter Series for World Trade Month on: (i) Export Opportunities; (ii) Financing; and (iii) Export Solutions. Though the series has ended, you can access highlights using this link.
Other recent initiatives of the Obama Administration were highlighted in a recent blog post.
Resources for Importers
Importers of goods need guidance that is very specific to the good being imported, its country of origin and intended destination. For that you need a customs broker and/or customs attorney. But here are some good places to start for an overview:
- The US Commercial Service Country Guides contain chapters on each country’s trade regulations, including those for imports.
- The EU Export HelpDesk focuses on developing country requirements, but provides a one-stop shop for those interested in accessing the EU market.
For importing into the United States, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency provides a Guide for Commercial Importers. Or you can Contact Us for assistance.