By Ray Hays, www.rayhays.com
Surprisingly, many people in international business are unaware of one of the best and free resources for international trade, the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS). In my international business development activities, I estimate that 75%+ of the international partner deals have been done with the assistance of the USCS.
Simply put, the U.S. Commercial Service helps U.S. companies to build their business in worldwide markets. If you are a U.S. company involved in international business, or if you are a non-U.S. company seeking U.S. partnerships, I highly recommend that you review the link below.
What’s so great about it? First, it’s local and global. Most major metro areas in the U.S. have an Export Assistance Centers (known as USEACs). Your local USEAC is staffed with Commercial Service trade specialists, whose job is to promote and liaise with local U.S. companies who are seeking international expansion.
These local USEACs are linked to their counterparts at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.
How can your company benefit? The USCS offers several free and paid services (very inexpensive). Here are some of the services that I have used:
* PARTNER SEARCHES: If a U.S. company is seeking an agent, JV partner, licensee, etc. in a specific country, the USCS will identify and contact prospective partners that fit your profile. The trade specialist will screen the partners based on your parameters (size, industry, locations, etc.) and will present you with profiles on the finalist prospects. You may then contact these prospects directly… or even better, the USCS will arrange an in-person meeting with the partner, and will often make available their facilities for the meeting.
* COMPANY BACKGROUND INFORMATION – If you want to complete thorough due diligence on an international partner (and you should), the USCS will complete a detailed background report on the company, which includes ownership, financial info, history and bank references.
* MARKET RESEARCH – The USCS has general industry reports for most sectors, which you can request free-of-charge. You may also request that the USCS complete a custom market research report for a fee.
* TRADE MISSIONS AND PROMOTIONAL EVENTS – The USCS will work with associations to organize industry-specific trade events, or they can also help with a single-company promotion.
Whenever I’m working on an international business project, the USCS is my first and favorite resource for information and help.