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Bid Ocean Network, Your Business Wellness Center

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.

Basic Knowledge

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.

Assistance

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.

Business Opportunities

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.

Funding Know-How

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.

Arranged in an alphabetical manner, the following are guidelines and links to relevant websites about exporting and/or importing certain products.

Importing

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.

Custom Brokers

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.

Trade Agreements

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

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.

Legal Know-how

The following links offer information and guidelines regarding the legal importation of products and services.

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.

  • Export-Import Bank of the U.S.

    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.

  • U.S. DA Foreign Agriculture Service

    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.

  • Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)

    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.

  • U.S. Trade and Development Agency

    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.