Export Counseling and Assistance

A number of assistance sources are available to U.S. exporters.

1. The U.S. Department of Commerce

Through the local district office, the exporter has access to all assistance available through the International Trade Administration (ITA) and to trade information gathered overseas by the U.S. and foreign commercial services. The U.S. Trade Information Center serves as a single source of research support, trade information counseling, and industry consultation. A valu­able source of trade information while conducting foreign market research is the National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). The NTDB provides specific product and country information as well as a list of foreign importers in specific product areas. U.S. exporters can also advertise in Commercial News USA, a bimonthly magazine that promotes U.S. products and services overseas. It is distributed by U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 152 countries (In­ternational Perspective 4.2).

The following is a list of some of the major programs offered by the Department of Com­merce (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2011).

  • Market Access and Compliance (MAC): MAC specialists monitor foreign-country trade practices and help U.S. exporters deal with foreign trade barriers.
  • S. and Foreign Commercial Service (U.S. & FCS): U.S. commercial officers in foreign countries provide important trade and investment information on foreign companies. This includes but is not limited to conducting market research and finding foreign representatives.
  • Trade Development: This unit offers extensive support to U.S. exporters by providing critical information on market and trade practices overseas, including industry analysis and trade policy. Industry-specific trade development includes aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, e-commerce, and energy. Industry officers identify trade opportuni­ties by product or service, develop export marketing plans, and conduct trade missions.
  • Gold Key Service: This services U.S. exporters by prescreening potential distributors and professional associations. It is available in many countries.
  • Trade events: The Department of Commerce organizes various trade events (e.g., trade fairs, trade missions, international catalog exhibitions) in order to help market U.S. products or locate representatives abroad.

2. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA provides free export counseling services to potential and current small business exporters (through its field offices) throughout the United States.

  • SCORE/ACEprograms: Members of the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the Active Corps of Executives (ACE), with years of practical experience in inter­national trade, assist small firms in evaluating export potential, developing and imple­menting export marketing plans, identifying problem areas, and so on. SCORE has a new acronym, Counselors to America’s Small Business or CASB. Since its inception, the organization has worked with more than seven million entrepreneurs.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs): Additional export counseling and as­sistance are offered through the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), which are located within some colleges and universities. The centers are intended to offer technical help to exporters by providing, for example, an export marketing feasibility study and an analysis for client firms. There is also an initial legal assistance program for small exporters on the legal aspects of exporting.
  • S. Export Assistance Centers (EACs): These are intended to deliver a comprehensive array of export counseling and trade finance services to U.S. firms. They integrate the export marketing know-how of the Department of Commerce with the trade fi­nance expertise of the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank. EAC trade specialists help U.S. firms enter new markets and increase market share by identifying the best markets for their products; developing an effective marketing strat­egy; advising on distribution channels, market entry, promotion, and export procedures; and assisting with trade finance. They are generally located within state promotion agen­cies, local chambers of commerce, and other local export-promotion organizations.

3. U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a wide variety of programs to pro­mote U.S. agricultural exports. Some of the trade assistance programs include promotion of U.S. farm exports in foreign markets, services of commodity and marketing specialists, trade fairs, and information services. Programs are available to expand dairy product exports, pro­vide technical assistance for specialty crops, and so on.

4. State Government and City Agencies

Many states, cities, and counties have special programs to assist their own exporters. Such programs generally include export education, marketing assistance, trade missions, and trade shows.

5. Private Sources of Export Assistance

Commercial banks, trading companies, trade clubs, chambers of commerce, and trade associ­ations, as well as trade consultants, provide various forms of export assistance (see Table 4.2).

Source: Seyoum Belay (2014), Export-import theory, practices, and procedures, Routledge; 3rd edition.

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