A Wealth of International Resources for the American Small Business
by Dario Gomez, SBA Official
- Created: June 21, 2013, 10:08 am
- Updated: June 21, 2013, 10:08 am
One of the biggest challenges to both current and potential exporters is access to accurate, reliable information about the markets they want to tap. One of the most common ways large exporters address this issue is by contracting “expert” help in each country or region where they do business, that is, a local representative or source in position to provide both information and market analysis. This type of service can be -and usually is- costly. If you happen to be a large exporter, cost may not be a major issue, but for small exporters this challenge can be daunting.
Enter Direct Line. The State Department’s Direct Line to American Business program allows small businesses direct access to U.S. Ambassadors, mission teams and foreign government officials to explore market opportunities in their respective countries. Through one-on-one conference calls with U.S. officials abroad, Direct Line provides important and timely information to interested American exporters about how to do business in any particular country. Discussions range from what the best investment opportunities are in the current climate, to analysis of subsector activities in your business area. After a brief overview and guided discussion, participants ask questions to get further insights from experts in the field and the foreign government officials directly responsible for planning and procurement in specific areas. Whatever your focus, Direct Line has the answers to your questions.
Exporting is increasingly becoming one of the most important factors in the U.S economic recovery, as clearly reflected by the priority given the National Export Initiative. It is in that context that the U.S. government, through several agencies, provides a wealth of information, resources, counseling and many other services to help U.S. exporters expand their share of the international market.
One such resource is the new Business Tab found at the top of every U.S. Embassy and Consulate homepage, which offers further support to U.S. small businesses interested in expanding their international portfolio. Business Tab provides a wealth of country-specific information, from key financial reports to news on other agency programs, such as what the International Trade Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture are doing to assist U.S. businesses overseas. Explore where your business fits in by visiting http://www.state.gov for links to all embassy and consulate websites.
Also, be sure to watch out for the launch of a new interactive platform known as the Business Information Database System (BIDS), which is likely to rollout in the next six months. BIDS will internally manage and deliver information on foreign government business and procurement opportunities to U.S. companies, expediting and informing your business decisions.
As always, visit http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2889 to learn more about the SBA Office of International Trade and see the various types of export assistance that are available to your small business.
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