Initially navigating the choppy waters of international trade is made more difficult by the nomenclature, obtuse product classification schemes and the long list of important acronyms to memorize. For instance, there are many valuable resources available from the U.S. government to assist the would be exporter as well as those who wish to expand upon their existing markets overseas. Finding those resources can be a challenge. It’s like being dropped off in a strange land with no knowledge of the language and trying to get around. Getting what you want and getting where you want to go is most frustrating.
In this article, we’ll attempt to demystify one behemoth source of potential export assistance… as well as define a couple of the acronyms.
George Washington established the first cabinet departments of the United States of America. On February 14, 1903, a new cabinet was formed, The Department of Commerce (DOC) and Labor, as the national arm for economic development. One of their tasks became to gather data to assist businesses and thereby help to create more jobs.
In 1980, the DOC established a new agency, The International Trade Administration (ITA), to promote exports overseas. Further, the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) was formed as the trade promotion arm of the DOC’s ITA.
The U.S. Commercial Service (CS) employs trade professionals through local offices (USEAC – United States Export Assistance Centers) in over 100 U.S. cities with corresponding foreign offices in nearly 80 countries for the purpose of helping small to medium sized companies get started in exporting or increasing sales to new global markets.
Their services include:
- Market Intelligence to help U.S. exporters target the right market (s) for their products and services.
- Trade Counseling to provide them with the information they need to navigate the export process from beginning to end.
- Business Matchmaking services to connect them with the right partners and prospects.
- Trade Advocacy for U.S companies to level the international playing field for international procurement.
The U.S. Commercial Service uses Export.gov, the Government’s export portal, as its main online resource. It’s a good resource for market research, trade events, trade leads, and information on how to export. Country Commercial Guides prepared by their foreign offices and published annually by the U.S. Commercial Service provide general information about the fastest growing markets and industries.
Other resources you may find helpful (listed in no particular order) include: