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Technology developments in international trade in the last century have grown the import and export of goods into a multi-billion dollar industry. No longer the exclusive venue of giant corporations, global trade is accessible even to the small-business owner.
The number of imports entering the United States far outstrips the products we export. While popular sentiment recently has demanded more U.S.-made goods, there are reasons we continue to buy across borders:
Buying direct from foreign countries is time-consuming and requires substantial paperwork, but it is not nearly as difficult as one might think. A thriving import business can be established using a few practical guidelines:
If you are thinking about exporting your goods, carefully assess the pros and cons of expanding into global markets. Advantages include:
Alternatively, exporting does carry some disadvantages. Be prepared to:
Some questions to keep in mind:
International Import/Export Resources
For assistance in setting up your import or export operations, visit these links. They provide valuable content to help manage and grow your business:
With offices in 100 U.S. and 80 foreign cities, this Dept. of Commerce unit offers a network for counseling, market research and leads.
Main government source for loan guarantees and credit insurance.
Industry leader in providing international traders and dangerous goods transporters with compliance forms, references, and training.
Extensive overview of the global trade ecosystem, with links to many useful directories.
Features a search engine that ferrets out country-specific news coverage.
U.S. Department of Commerce site providing access to other international trade-related sites, including home pages for specific regions around the world.
Offers information on SBA export finance programs, federal export programs, market-specific publications and trade regulations
Provides directory of international chambers of commerce and links to their Web pages.
Provides business leads in developing countries; offers training grants and workshops.
Contains a directory of U.S. companies and independent contractors that can translate, edit and proofread contracts and documents.