It’s official: exporting is a trend in the United States. For four straight years, U.S. companies have experienced record-breaking international sales – reaching an all-time high of $2.3 trillion – and supporting 11.3 million U.S. jobs – last year alone.
Across the country, U.S. exports help companies grow, create jobs, and contribute to the domestic economy. If you want to join the rising number of firms that are going global, consider the various ways the government can help.
For example, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency can connect you to global infrastructure opportunities. As an independent federal government agency, USTDA’s mission is to invest in projects that advance economic growth in emerging markets, while promoting U.S. exports to those markets.
And we’re pretty good at it. I’m proud to say that every $1 USTDA has invested in its programs has yielded $76 in U.S.-manufactured goods and services.
How are we able to achieve this incredible return on our investment? By providing U.S. companies with access, opportunity and support. But before I describe how the Agency supports U.S. firms in more detail, there are a couple of things that I’d like you to keep in mind:
Secondly, USTDA focuses exclusively on infrastructure projects in order to help its partner countries achieve their economic development goals. By supporting the modernization and expansion of the transportation, energy and telecommunications sectors in high-growth emerging markets, USTDA helps them develop the foundation necessary to achieve sustainable growth and become strong, viable trading partners for U.S. firms.
Now, bearing these two things in mind, let me explain how USTDA successfully promotes U.S. exports.
Access: USTDA provides U.S. manufacturers and service providers with direct access to foreign buyers. Through sector-specific conferences and workshops, the Agency highlights upcoming projects and procurement plans overseas. We also host reverse trade missions, which bring foreign decision makers right to you!
These delegations travel all across the country to observe the design and demonstration of U.S. equipment and technology in advance of major procurements. Check out the list of upcoming reverse trade missions and sign up to attend a business briefing. These one-day, mini-conferences include delegate presentations on specific project plans, tender timelines and financing mechanisms – all you need to know. In addition, they include one-on-one meetings (think: corporate speed dating) so you can sit down with a foreign buyer and discuss how your product or service will meet his needs.
Opportunity: The Agency provides U.S. businesses with the opportunity to participate in large infrastructure projects overseas. By getting U.S. industry involved during the critical early stages of project planning, when designs, technology options and requirements are being defined, USTDA sets U.S. companies up for success in the implementation stage. We fund feasibility studies, which are always performed by U.S. firms, pilot projects, which demonstrate a U.S. company’s equipment or technology in the foreign buyer’s setting, and technical assistance to help create a regulatory environment conducive to increased U.S. exports in key markets. U.S. companies can bid on the opportunity to perform these project planning studies, which are posted on www.fbo.gov. Or, if a U.S. firm has identified a foreign partner and needs USTDA’s help moving a project forward, they can review our project proposal guidelines and seek assistance.
Support: Through its Global Procurement Initiative (GPI), USTDA supports U.S. companies competing on international tenders. Oftentimes, U.S. firms lose out on these opportunities because foreign decision makers consistently award contracts to the least cost bidder, regardless of quality, warranties, guarantees, etc. Through the GPI, USTDA is training public procurement officials in emerging markets on how to incorporate best value and life-cycle cost analysis into award decisions in order to level the playing field for U.S. firms.
These are the export-promotion programs from a single federal agency. There are several other agencies that offer several other programs to connect you to several other countries. With more than 95% of the world’s consumers located outside U.S. borders, now is the time for U.S. companies to leverage the resources available to them – including those of government agencies like USTDA – to identify future customers overseas.
For more information, please visit www.ustda.gov and sign up to receive the Agency’s e-newsletter, Trade Posts.
Leila Aridi Afas is USTDA’s Director for Export Promotion. You can follow her on Twitter @TheTradeLady.