Looking to export

Some tools for getting started

Looking to export? Exporting existing products and services has helped numerous companies expand their markets and their bottom lines.  But, where to start? The US Department  of Agriculture puts out a quick 9 questions survey “Are you Ready To Export” that is a good measurement on your firms preparedness, no matter if you are US company going abroad or a company entering the US market.  Based on the characteristics common among successful exporters,  it really gives the basic components of defining your product and ensuring you possesses the basic information to start the process. Even as it focuses on agricultural products, the essence of most of the questions can be applied broadly to a wide range of exports.


Another resource that USDA has that is similar to a the Exporting Guide by US Department of Commerce (trade.gov/publications/pdfs/epg_2009.pdf) is Recipe for Success: A Brief Tutorial for Exports  that covers the definition of your product, target market, pricing, market entry strategy and an action plan.  In the appendices there are sample plans and templates that can be downloaded to assist you in developing your program. 


If you are a US company dealing with U.S. food, farm and forest products there is the Trade Assistance and Promotion Office (TAPO) ) within the US Department of Agricultural which is a good place to start.  They have counselors that provide exporters with market entry data for a given foreign market, general assistance and programs that may assist in entering a foreign market that is managed by the US Department of Agriculture.    Tel: (202) 720-7420.   E-mail: TAPO@fas.usda.gov.


These two resources are good tools for any firm entering a new market, either be it in your own country to another region or to a new country.  The counseling is dedicated to US firms, but each individual country typically has a program similar to provide this level of assistance.  In actually might be at a higher level that the services provided by the US.  So look at your local resources to supplement these guides.  These resources can keep your firm from wondering in the export wilderness lacking direction on how to get started.


Once you’ve determined that you are ready to export, positioning concepts such as product uniqueness, quality, production costs and established competitors will play key roles in how you present your product, target your audience and focus your sales plan. These second stage issues, which you may already have resolved at home often take on a new dimensions in the export market. Assistance with these questions can often be found through US Trade Assistance groups for the specific industry.


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