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What Export.gov Can Do for Small Businesses

In order to reach the fastest growing economies in the world, small businesses have to navigate the international export market. Although confusing at first, economic terms and analysis and the labyrinth of U.S. export laws can be mastered once you know where to look. At Export.gov, small businesses find the economic and legal information they need to successfully export their goods and services to Ohio, Kansas – you name it.

Navigating the Website

Export.gov is supported by a number of federal agencies, including the Departments of Commerce, Energy, State, Treasury and Agriculture. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the Small Business Administration participate as well.

Finding information and answers on the site is relatively easy. Business owners immediately see links to Opportunities and Solutions on the Home page. From Solutions, entrepreneurs find advice on a variety of special topics such as licenses, international logistics, financing and insurance.

Economists and diligent managers appreciate the wealth of trade data and analysis, provided in part by the International Trade Administration. Making market research and planning easier, detailed economic reports, broken down by importers, exporters, country, commodity and industry, are readily available.

Many countries and zones, like the European Union, regulate imports with, among other things, tariffs. Exporters find detailed information on tariffs and taxes, by country and otherwise, on the website.

Businesses looking for financing will appreciate the links to funding opportunities, such as those available through Multilateral Development Banks, including the World Bank. Small businesses can also find a convenient export destination through Export.gov’s partnership with the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Savvy entrepreneurs take advantage of the trade leads identified by U.S. Commercial Service professionals, stationed at embassies and consulates across the globe.

All exporters have to keep abreast of relevant U.S. and international laws. Groups like the Organization of American States provide information on existing and tentative free trade agreements. Small business can find information on the Americas as well as countries in other hemispheres on Export.gov, including in-depth treatment of important agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Under Licenses & Regulations, business owners find online training, including videos on relevant topics like export compliance, regulation basics, tech licensing and intellectual property rights. There are also links to guides, such as to the European Union’s REACH program for exporting chemicals to the zone. Helpful webinars are also provided, like the series on the Basics of Exporting.

Export.gov identifies a wide variety of ways U.S. small businesses can connect with customers worldwide.  Information on attending trade shows, like the World Future Energy Summit 2013 is readily available, as are links for registering for sponsored trade missions such as the Multi-Sector Trade Mission to the “Three Cs” in South India & Sri Lanka.

Glossary of Trade Terms

Small businessmen new to exporting will benefit from referring to this helpful set of important international trade terms.

Commodity: Typically, a raw material like metal or an agricultural product like corn.

Dumping: When a foreign business sells its product in the U.S. – regardless of where Idaho, South Carolina, West Virginia – for less than it cost to make, or for less than it sells for in its home country, this is called dumping.

Exports: Both goods and services sold outside of the country in which they were produced.

Free Trade: A fictional ideal where no government actions, such as tariffs and other barriers, hamper international trade. Most countries’ trade policies do not attempt to reach completely free trade, since each country prefers to restrict imports to some extent.

Market Economy: When a country’s economy allows market forces of supply and demand to drive levels of savings, consumption, investment and production, rather than government control.

Services: Activities where tangible, lasting articles are not produced, such as banking, communications and consulting services.

Subsidy: When a government provides economic assistance to its producers of goods and services to help them compete.

Tariff: A tax on imported goods, imposed by a country to protect its producers or to raise money.

Trade Barriers: When a government puts in place policies and laws to make foreign products and services significantly more expensive or otherwise difficult to import.

Confusing at first, understanding the ins and outs of international trade are an important part of conducting business in the 21st century. Small businesses can master the art of successfully exporting their goods and services by taking advantage of the data, analysis, leads, guidance, advocacy and resources provided by Export.gov.

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