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Exporting: Just for the “Big Guys”? Think Again

February 25, 2013

Rich Carpenter
Public Relations / Media Affairs
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration 

All too often, small businesses are denying themselves a seat at the global export table.  The inability of the small business manufacturer to actively pursue overseas markets is quite often not founded on empirical evidence, but the lack of knowledge dealing with the intricacies of exporting.  Supplying goods to customers abroad has often been viewed as being squarely in the domain of the large corporations, the giant conglomerates and well-established businesses with firmly entrenched foreign presence.  Exporting is viewed by many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) as a daunting prospect unless you have a guide. We are that guide.  The U.S. Export Assistance Center is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration. We’re here to guide the way for U.S. companies to enter and expand in the global marketplace.

Access to the global marketplace is less restricted than ever before.  Combined with the fact that the U.S. has long been known for its quality when it comes to precision manufacturing, this translates into elevated demand for U.S. products in foreign markets.  Since greater than 70% of the world’s purchasing power now lies outside the U.S., it is a terrific time for our SMEs to expand their sales into the global market and take advantage of a brand new customer base.

Current export numbers for the U.S. showcase a rise in export revenue of $2.1 trillion in 2011, resulting in a staggering 6.8 million domestic jobs in support of U.S. businesses who export. Massachusetts recognized $27.7 billion in export dollars in 2011, and Connecticut exported over $16 billion in 2012.  In fact, one out of every 15 workers in Connecticut supports exports.

While the economic impact of export on the SMEs is huge, sadly only a small percentage of U.S. businesses actively export their products. Also, most of those companies who currently export their products typically serve only one or two export markets. Lastly, an even smaller number of companies serve more than two markets globally.

Since such a wide array of opportunities exist in the overseas markets, what manufacturer can ignore this potential for growth? None!  However, as in any new venture, even after performing the hard work to develop and produce your product, when completing the required market research and developing an export plan, most often SMEs will have many questions.  To service the needs of SMEs who wish to export and to bring the required knowledge on just how to export your particular product, you will need a partner, a guide and an advocate.

Here to meet these needs are the local U.S. Export Assistance Centers. These centers are staffed by trade professionals whose sole mission is to support U.S. companies’ exports and expand their ability to compete in foreign markets. 

The Export Assistance Centers support companies by leveraging the U.S. Government’s overseas commercial offices in embassies and consulates and utilizing their own interagency cooperative ties while adding the weight of the U.S. government to really make an impact on behalf of U.S. companies entering into the global markets. 

The Export Assistance Centers also supply manufacturers with in-depth market analysis and compiles facts and figures regarding risk and trade barriers that may exist and current critical market matters, which would be detrimental in providing a receptive market for their SMEs’ products for export.

Along with trade and diplomatic advocacy, one of the strongest and most successful services which the Export Assistance Centers provide for their local businesses is their business-to-business matchmaking service in overseas markets.  These prearranged meetings are arranged and supported by the overseas commercial offices and have demonstrated positive results for sales in the targeted markets.

Trade missions are also an opportunity for export growth for manufacturers and are an opportunity for companies to travel with our trade professionals and high level U.S. government officials directly to the foreign markets.   For example, this month Senator Blumenthal is leading a mission with the Middletown Export Assistance Center and a group of Connecticut aerospace component manufacturers to Toulouse, France for meetings with high-level procurement officers at Airbus and a number of tier one aerospace suppliers.

Financing export orders can be a challenge for companies and their bankers. The Export Assistance Centers work with companies and the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide to the company’s funders working capital guarantees and other export-related financial resources. The Ex-Im bank also offers direct accounts receivable credit insurance for export orders.

The Middletown, CT and Boston, MA U.S. Export Assistance Centers are just an e-mail or phone call away.  For Connecticut inquiries, please visit contact Director Anne Evans directly at 860-638-6950 or For Massachusetts inquiries, please visit contact Director James Paul directly at 617-565-4304 or



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