The U.S. Commerce Department wants to mobilize small to mid-sized businesses to begin or expand their exporting, and it has enlisted the aid of two delivery companies in an effort to get the job done.
On Feb. 19, Commerce and UPS Inc. announced a joint effort under which UPS will identify small- and medium-sized companies that currently export to just one market, analyze data about the companies, and suggest possible new markets for them based on various factors, including industry, geography, currency, and market access.
The companies will then work with trade specialists from the U.S. Commercial Service, a division of Commerce's International Trade Administration (ITA). The trade experts, who are stationed in 77 countries around the world, will design strategies to identify new market opportunities and find buyers in existing markets to expand the companies' ability to sell their products and services, Commerce said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service announced on Feb 24 that it would work with ITA to support small- and medium-sized businesses interested in establishing an export program or expanding one already in place. The post office said it would manage the joint effort through its Global Business group.
"The global market for goods produced in the U.S. is open to businesses both large and small," said John E. Potter, postmaster general and chief executive officer, in a statement. "Our global shipping services open the gateway to the globe for American exports."
The announcements continue a flurry of activity that began after President Obama announced in his State of the Union address his goal of doubling the nation's exports over the next five years. According to Commerce data, less than 1 percent of the nation's 30 million businesses export; of those that do, 58 percent export to just one market, Commerce said.
On Feb. 4, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke unveiled a National Export Initiative, which, among other things, creates a multi-agency Export Promotion Cabinet tasked with submitting to President Obama within six months what Locke called "a coordinated, detailed plan" to increase the nation's export activity.
As part of the initiative, the administration's fiscal 2011 budget is requesting a 20-percent increase in ITA funding, to $78 million.