Exporting and Importing
To continuously grow, you may wish to consider selling your product outside the country. Exporting is a big step in expanding your reach, promoting your product, and increasing your profit.
Exporting diversifies your market and makes your business less vulnerable to fluctuations in the local market. Moreover, you broaden your reach to potential customers and ensure the healthy disposal of your products.
The government has a website dedicated to guiding and assisting potential exporters at www.export.gov/begin. To have proper knowledge on how to prepare for exporting, the following paragraphs, extracted from a couple of government websites, offer practical advice.
Free Export Readiness Test
Before anything else, see if you have the capability and potentials for a sound exporter. While it presents manifold chances for your business to grow, it needs careful preparation and planning The website has an online questionnaire ascertain your readiness and a feedback system to guide you and help boost your chances in exporting.
There is a set of basics about exporting. The Department of Commerce presents general information about readiness to export and the development and implementation of an export plan in Export Basics. It also sells export know-how like the identification of markets, funding transactions, and taking care of orders from abroad via its online Guide to Exporting.
Training and Counseling
From your online assessment, the website will be assisting on your training and counseling needs by leading you to relevant online and locally-available counselors. The latter will help you create a training program aptly fitted to your needs.
The U.S. federal government, through its specialists, offers a number of free tutoring and assistance for potential exporters. Government agencies like the Commerce Department and Trade and Development Agency provide an array of industry and export experts all over the country to small businesses with their respective links at Contact a Trade Specialist Near You and USTDA Consultant Database for Small Businesses.
Do an Export Business Plan
An export business plan is relevant as it shows where your company currently is, and what are its goals and thrusts. To develop one is to look at facts, identify strengths and weaknesses, and set specific goals and objectives to enhance your business' outlook in the future.
Undertake Market Research
To know your business potential in exporting, you need to conduct market research. You can make use of the U.S. Market Research Library from wherein the latest information and updates on products and businesses are contained from the work of embassies around the world. To identify target markets, Trade Stats Express is a very useful tool.
Look for Buyers
You have to be on the look-out for government-sponsored events which feature a meeting of American exporters and potential importers from abroad. While done in the country, there are also chances for you to join trade missions or shows in other countries.
The Department of Commerce offers information and assistance about winning government contracts all over the world at Advocacy Assistance for U.S. Exporters: What You Need to Know. For its part, the Trade and Development Agency maintains a list of possible contracting ventures with its grant awardees across the globe at U.S. Trade and Development Agency: Info for U.S. Exporters.
You need to know how to avail of various assistance and grants available to finance your export endeavors, investments abroad, or projects.
Exporting Rules and Licenses
There are a number of policies and regulations from within the country and to importing countries abroad which need to be adhered. Specific goods may be covered by prohibitions or regulations and a number of licenses are required by the U.S. government for exporters.
For legal agreements at the global level, the Exporter's Guide to Trade Agreements is an instructive link. Your goods may be rejected by governments of importer countries so this site needs to be visited: Governmental Rejections. The latter offers information on bans and labeling goods.
The exportation of technology and source code is governed by a class of laws and regulations. For frequently asked questions, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) maintains a link at Technology and Source Code Exports (Deemed Export Rule).
The European Union has strict laws on personal data. Hence, it prohibits exporting them to non-EU countries that do not meet its stringent standards. For guidance on this matter, the Safe Harbor Portal should be consulted. The Safe Harbor Program: Understand Data Privacy Laws When Doing Business in the European Union provides a general overview about EU regulations on privacy.
General information on licensing can be found at Export.gov - Regulations and Licenses and from other links of federal agencies. While most exports do not need licensing, you should visit the U.S. BIS's Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) to be sure.
For more information on specific aspects of export licensing, the following links are worth visiting. The BIS primers are Export Controls and Licensing Requirements: An Introduction and Export Licensing Guidance. Both are especially useful for new entrants in the exporting business. You may wish to join the BIS's trainings and seminars towards compliance of country laws and good exporting systems by looking at U.S. Export Controls and Licensing: Training and Seminars.
For regulations on dual-use commodities, technology, and software, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security: Export Policies and Regulations is a key site. It also contains in-depth discussions on related policies, export schemes and regimes, regional peculiarities, anti-boycott regulations, and technical committees.
Arranged in an alphabetical manner, the following are guidelines and links to relevant websites about exporting and/or importing certain products.
In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in charge of implementing laws and regulations regarding the importation or exportation of products to or from the country. As such, its Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) branch maintains links to general guidelines, as well as product-specific instructions.
If you are considering importing agricultural products from abroad, the USDA FAS has a comprehensive link on this matter at Import Programs for Agriculture Products.
For handbooks and training materials including videos and market reports, go to Agricultural Export Assistance Handbooks and Guidelines, Exporter Assistance for Agriculture and Forestry Industries, and Exporter's Matrix : Handbook for U.S. Agribusinesses.
For resources which can aid small and medium enterprises in knowing opportunities for export abroad, creating a global marketing plan, and shipping to other countries, visit Agricultural Export Transportation Handbook.
For knowledge on related available credit programs from the government, click Export Credit Guarantee Programs. A related link is the Facility Guarantee Program which seeks to give financial assistance to commercial exports.
If you wish to avail of the aforesaid government commercial credits, visit General Sales Manager Online System in order to fill-up required documentation.
For a host of USDA FAS programs in support of potential exporters of agricultural products, go to Market Development Programs.
For issues and problems related to competition with imports and matters involving trade agreements which affect your exports, click Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers : FAQs and Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act : FAQs. The former also contains information on free government technical and financial assistance.
With regards to pricing and terms for the export of agricultural products, the U.S. Exporter Assistance : Pricing, Quotes, and Negotiations provides specifics.
Lastly, for shipping to their countries and proper documentation, you may consult the USDA's U.S. Exporter Assistance : Shipping Documentation, and Requirements.
Generic Agricultural Products
Animals and Plants
The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) monitors the importation and exportation of animals and plants, animal and plant products, and biologicals. Its Animal and Animal Product Import and Export Information leads to a site with general information about this matter. How APHIS Facilitates Agricultural Exports explains its function in exporting agricultural products while How APHIS Facilitates Agricultural Imports tells about its duties with regard to importing agricultural products.
For issues involving the protection of plant species and the related importation of plants from abroad, APHIS's Plant Protection and Quarantine Permit FAQs and Phytosanitary Certificates and Export of Plants and Plant Products provides you specific information.
The Guide to Exporting Solid Wood Products provides information about strategies towards successfully marketing wood-based products abroad.
Automobile import is monitored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Visit its Automobile Importation and Certification FAQs and Vehicle Importation and Certification Regulations for usual queries and information about it. Becoming a Registered Importer with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is your guide if you wish to import vehicles into the country as mandated by the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act. The latter deals with compliance to federal automobile safety standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its own guide with regards to the production and importation of automobiles. Its Requirements for New Manufacturers of Vehicles, Engines and Equipment details laws and regulations about these matters.
The EPA regulates importation and exportation of chemicals. General information, including requirements are stated at Chemical Import/Export Requirements. Pesticides are a class and has its own link at Pesticide Import and Export Trade Requirements which includes notes on global agreements and concerns about it. You need to register with EPA to be able to import pesticides.
If you are dealing with the export of armaments, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls provides guidelines about it, basing upon laws such as the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
If you wish to export to NATO member-countries, you need to be certified to qualify for bidding on available NATO Security Investment Program prospects. The Department of Commerce's Selling to NATO : U.S. Company Certification connects you to forms and legal means, including contact specifics.
Food and Beverages
The import and export of food and beverages is strictly monitored and regulated in the country. For starters, the USDA's Country of Origin Labeling Requirements details the requirement of identifying source country for perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts, beef, lamb, pork, and fish. Exporting Grain, Rice, and Pulses details information about the export of grains and related products with respect to regulations such as the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) or the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (AMA).
Requirements abroad include food export certificates which may be needed by the country destination of export products. The Food Export Certificate Project elaborates on this. Meanwhile, the European Union sets guidelines on exporting to its member-countries with Requirements for Exporting to the European Union. For food which have been grown with pesticides, the Pesticide Residues on Imported and Exported Foods tells about acceptable levels which determines its fitness for export or importation.
The export and import of alcoholic drinks are regulated and information can be found at Exporting Alcohol Beverages from the United States and Importing Alcohol Beverages into the United States. For guidelines per specific country, the International Import-Export Requirements for Alcoholic Beverages is the link.
Wine, as a specialized alcoholic drink, has a variety of trade laws spelled out at Tools and Guidance for the Trade of Wine. Also included are guidelines and forms.
The export and import of industrial products are governed by certain laws, requirements, and specifications. The Foreign-Trade Zone Manufacturing Center: Information for Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturers helps small and medium-sized entrepreneurs on selling their products to other countries. For the import of steel mill products, license is required. The Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis System (SIMA) connects you to steel import requirements.
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
The import and export of pharmaceutical products such as drugs and cosmetics, among related items, are regulated by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Import and Export of Human Drugs and Biologics and Importing Food, Drugs, Cosmetics and Medical Devices are relevant links to guidelines.
To be able to serve unmet needs at the local market, you can opt to import. While possible, several regulations restrict importing. Thus, you should be aware of these matters prior to starting an importing business. The government offers a variety of help from through federal, state and local agencies who also maintain useful website links.
It is important to know the ropes of importing and the following are a must to your endeavor's success.
These people help you have a well-oiled importing business. Importing is a process requiring a set of different processes from procuring products and services in other countries to delivering them at your doorstep.
Custom brokers are either organization, individuals, or corporations with license to operate from the Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP) with the purpose of aiding both importers and exporters to meet government conditions.
Experts in entry procedures, admissibility needs, valuation, classification, and tax payments and fees, custom brokers work by preparing and submitting required documents, calculating and paying for taxes, duties and excises, and serves as communicator between government and importer.
A number of and bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements govern trade between the United States and foreign countries. The former are agreements regulating investment coming from the U.S. into the partner-country, and vice-versa while the latter are accords towards the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers between the U.S. and one or more trading partner-countries. Visit U.S. Free Trade Agreements page to know more about these legal instruments.
Free trade zones are designated areas in many countries which allow for looser controls and tariffs in terms of importing and exporting goods and services. The U.S. and other countries each have free trade partners. These areas, since looser on regulations and lower on tariff and non-tariff barriers, enable exporters and importers to have greater ease in conducting business. To know more about them, visit Understanding Free Trade Zones.
Trade barriers come in the form of restrictive tariff and non-tariff instruments. Free trade agreements aim to lower or reduce these cost-inducing tools. However, you may still encounter them along the way and the best preparation is gaining know-how.
In cases where you encounter barriers, the Trade Compliance Center is the link to note. It assists businesses with regard to these barriers or unfair trading practices. Specifically, the Center's Report a Trade Barrier enables you to relay information to the U.S. government. You may wish to see first the Trade Compliance Center FAQ page to know more about the process of filing complaints.
The following links offer information and guidelines regarding the legal importation of products and services.
If you manage a small business and you are mulling about selling products and services from abroad, this is a relevant link to guide you.
Another relevant link which talks about basic knowledge with regards to importing, presenting suggestions and how to meet regulatory requirements. Moreover, the link also gives valuable data on importing pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and online buying.
This link connects you to the Customs' offices knowledgeable in international trade, trade relations, and brokers.
This link is important if you intend to import agricultural products, chemicals, vehicles, foods and beverages, armaments and related goods, pharmaceutical and industrial products.
If you wish to do an importing business of poultry, meat, and egg products, this link is a must. It details specific rules and regulations to make the importing of these goods adhere to labeling, safety, and packaging requirements.
If you are a foreign national- no U.S. residency or citizenship- but wish to do business in the country, visit this link for general and detailed information about relevant issues, including taxation.
This link provides update information on imported products, including tariff.
To know more about importing, including looking for partners abroad, check this out.
From the Bureau of Census, specific data on products and services which are imported into the country.
Funding Your Exports or Imports
Government offers a variety of options to choose from in order to fund your exporting or importing businesses. The following are different agencies with available loans and funding assistance for either importers or exporters.
Among the agencies charged to assist is the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. with its Working Capital Guarantee Program. The latter grants a 90 percent guarantee to a lender who issues a loan to an exporter for the manufacture and/or purchase of a product or service for export. Another of the bank's programs is the Medium-Term Insurance or Guarantee which ensures an exporter or lender from a defaulting foreign buyer. Visit their website at www.exim.gov to know more about these programs.
Another agency which offers loans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service. Its GSM-102 Credit Guarantee makes available loans to foreign buyers of U.S. agricultural and food products. Visit their website at www.fas.usda.gov for more details.
The U.S. OPIC grants funding for direct foreign investments in other countries, whether partnerships or wholly-owned ventures. It has loans ranging from $100,000 to $10 million for small businesses and up to $250 million for traditional-sized ventures. It also provides insurance for American businesses, investors, and financial groups against a variety of risks in other countries. Their website is at www.opic.gov.
The U.S. TDA provides a number of grants to companies who wish to conduct studies or exploratory endeavors in potential markets abroad. Ranging from $2,500 - $1 million, these may involve legal, technical, financial, and environmental studies, definitional missions, or desk studies. Look up at www.ustda.gov to know more about these opportunities.