International Trade FAQs

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Businesses in the United States are recognizing more and more the reality that they function in a market that includes the entire world. No longer is competition limited to businesses nearby, in the neighboring state or across America. Today, competition comes from China, Indonesia, Argentina, Australia, and Poland. Goods made in these and other far-off countries are easily obtained by American consumers.

Likewise, consumers in these same countries desire American goods and services. U.S. businesses that take advantage of this worldwide demand enjoy advantages far beyond what is possible by selling only to domestic customers. Our globe has evolved into one trading unit with goods and services originating everywhere and shipped to customers living everywhere. The next time you purchase an article of clothing, a toy, or a household item, notice the country of origin stamped or printed on that item.

To assist U.S. small businesses in obtaining the benefits of international trade, the Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development Centers offer many aids.

Small Business Administration Office of International Trade

The programs of this office are targeted toward businesses specializing in international trade and range from technical and managerial assistance to financial help. These programs are administered through the SBA’s district offices. The following services and programs for exporters are available through the district offices:

  • Legal Assistance
  • Export Working Capital Program
  • International Trade Loan Program
  • Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Financing
  • EXIMBANK-SBA Joint Guaranty Program

Call (800) 827-5722 for more information or contact the International SBDC.

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration (ITA)

ITA is the primary organization within the Department of Commerce that provides specialized information and business advising to businesses involved in international trade. The ITA assists American exporters inlocating, gaining access to and developing foreign markets and furnishes information on foreign markets open to U.S. products and services.

ITA’s operations are decentralized. To obtain services, contact one of the offices of the U.S. Commercial Service. Each office can provide information about:

  • Trade opportunities abroad
  • Tax advantages of exporting
  • International trade exhibitions
  • Foreign markets for U.S. products and services
  • Export documentation requirements
  • Market research
  • Export seminars and conferences
  • Many other services

The U.S. Commercial Service is one of the lead agencies providing export services through U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEAC). USEACs are federal export assistance offices which streamline export marketing and finance assistance by integrating in one location the services of the U.S. Commercial Service, EXIMBANK, theSBA, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). There are twelve USEACs:

Atlanta – (404) 657-1900

Baltimore – (410) 962-4539

Chicago – (312) 353-8040

Cleveland – (216) 522-4750

Dallas – (214) 767-0542

Denver – (303) 844-6622

Long Beach – (310) 980-4550

Miami – (305) 526-7425

New York – (212) 264-0635

Philadelphia – (215) 597-6101

Seattle – (206) 553-5615

St. Louis – (314) 425-3302

Although entering the arena of international trade may seem intimidating at first, the extensive assistance that is available makes the transition much easier.

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