How do I begin an Export Business?
If you have not already established a business:
First use the local business development center established by the Small Business Administration to assist beginning entrepreneurs with the fundamentals. To contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), visit the SBA webpage at http://www.sba.gov/index.html. This site covers a range of topics including how to get started, developing a business plan and sources of financing, or contact: U.S. Small Business Administration,Tom Bergdoll, District Director; Phone: (208) 334-9004 Ext.325; Fax:(208) 334-9353; Email: Thomas.Bergdoll@sba.gov.
If you have already established a business and want to start exporting, contact Amy Benson at (208)364-7791.
How do I determine if my company is "export-ready"?
Examine your resources and capabilities
Formulating a solid export strategy requires a critical examiniation of the capabilities and resources of one's company, possible foreign markets and strategies for entering those markets, what steps to take and when, what will be the cost in both time and money and more.
A Basic Guide to Exporting, a publication of the U.S. Department of Commerce in cooperation with Unz & Co., Inc., describes the exporting process step-by-step, from identifying markets and developing an export strategy to doing market research, traveling overseas, finding buyers, shipping, financing, as well as federal agency export promotion services available to U.S. exporters. It is available for $14.95 from Unz & Co. by calling (800) 631-3098. Another useful resource for new exporters is the Small Business Administration (SBA) publication called Breaking Into the Trade Game. This is a step-by-step guide to the exporting process from developing an export strategy and doing market research to identifying buyers and financing. You may locate the current version on the internet at http://www.sba.gov or through your local library or local SBA office at: (208) 334-9004.
What Should I Consider When Making the Decision to Begin Exporting?
There is a range of options for becoming involved in exporting; from filling orders for domestic buyers, such as export trading companies, who then export the product, to exporting directly yourself. Regardless of which method you choose, a detailed and thorough strategy should be developed. Steps in developing such a strategy include:
How do I obtain market research for a specific country and/or product?
The National Trade Data Bank (NTDB) is one of the primary sources of export information from the federal government. The NTDB is a "must-have" resource, gathering international trade and economic data from over 20 different government agencies into one place. Among the over 200,000 documents, exporters can find:
NTDB documents can be accessed through STAT-USA/Internet (see above link) which is updated continuously. Customers may either subscribe to STAT-USA/Internet for $25/single use, $75/quarterly or $200/year.
In addition, many countries maintain their own web pages with business information specific to that country. For a list of foreign embassies in the United States on the web, check out http://www.embassy.org. Try linking to the country in which you are interested in doing business for more information.
How can I receive information on foreign regulations, certification requirements for my product?
How do I locate trade leads for my exporting business? How do I locate potential distributors?
The Commerce Department offers many programs to assist exporters with trade leads:
Is there a tariff or quota that applies to my product in a foreign country?
Please note: The U.S. Government cannot provide tariff rates for products shipped from one foreign country to another. For tariff rates for importing into the United States, please contact U.S. Customs.
Where can I find statistics on U.S. Exports and Imports?
How do I find information about a particular overseas company?
Various public and private resources have services designed to help U.S. exporters find information about overseas companies:
Private corporations which maintain information on overseas companies
Other private corporations which provide credit reporting services:
Are there any sources of legal assistance for people who are new to exporting?
Where can I find a list of foreign companies in a particular industry or sector?
Private corporations which maintain information on overseas companies include:
Where can I find information on trade sanctions?
Do you have lists of American manufacturers & suppliers; importers & exporters?
Our office does not have comprehensive lists such as these, but can direct you to helpful resources such as:
Industry associations generally have directories of their members. The following publications (available in many local libraries) contain lists of industry trade associations:
Additional private publications which list U.S. manufacturers and suppliers include:
Other relevant publications include:
Do I need an export license to ship my product to a particular market? How do I get a license?
Most goods do not need an export license. Licenses are generally required for high tech or strategic goods and for goods shipped to certain countries where national security or foreign policy controls are important. The Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) administers export licenses and regulations. The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) require a license for certain activities and items, e.g. commodities, software and technology; if one of ten general prohibitions applies and the export or re-export is not eligible for a license exception. Any exporter can visit http://www.bis.doc.gov to further assess the need for a license.
How can I get information on importing products into the United States?
How can I find out about investment practices in a certain country?
Does the Federal Government have any programs to help advertise my products overseas?
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