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Exporting 101
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Hampshire companies exported more than $4 billion in products overseas last year. More than 2,600 companies shipped their wares to countries as close as Canada and as far away as the United Arab Emirates. And, according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, 183,900 jobs are supported by NH trade.

Exporting can literally open up a world of customers for NH companies. After all, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Take Lickity Bits in NH’s North Country that discovered a market in Europe for its highly specialized equestrian product. If your business isn’t exploring international markets, chances are you are missing opportunities. However, barriers—real and perceived—prevent some companies from jumping into the global market. Once you make the leap, you learn just how much opportunity you are missing.

The Office of International Commerce, part of the Division of Economic Development at the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development, works with companies at all stages of exporting to navigate the process of acquiring international customers. The agency works with partners, including the U.S. Commercial Service, the Small Business Administration, the NH Small Business Development Center, the Granite State District Export Council, the NH Aerospace and Defense Export Consortium and others, to connect businesses with the right markets and to help them succeed once there.

It starts with an in-depth assessment of your sales in the domestic market, your marketing plan for exporting and your commitment to developing these markets. The NH Small Business Development Center can work with firms on developing a plan.

Finding Markets
Once the assessment is complete, it’s on to finding an overseas market and partners within that market. The U.S. Commercial Service and Office of International Commerce help businesses look at markets and their indicators to identify appropriate products to export into the international marketplace. You can take also part in training presentations or webinars to learn about topics such as marketing strategies, financing, compliance regulations and more.

Finding the right market does not happen overnight. It requires dedication and perseverance. You will likely need to travel to other countries and forge relationships. You’ll also have to adapt to meet the standards and policies of a foreign country.

You will spend a lot of time researching target countries to find out if there are positive or negative market indicators and whether the cost of entering that market would yield an acceptable return. You’ll need to understand export controls and regulations surrounding sanctions or trade embargoes. You’ll need to know trade lingo, a lot of abbreviations, like ECCN, CCL, CPT, CIP and more.

NH’s Export Market
Your first foray into an international market will not likely be India or China because those trade relationships take time, sometimes years, to develop. Other countries are quite receptive to U.S. and NH products, including neighboring Canada, which routinely tops the list of NH’s trading partners.

The top five exports from the Granite State in 2015 were: communications equipment; computer equipment; navigation and measurement instruments; semiconductors and components, and metalworking machinery.

NH’s top trade partners in 2015 were:
Canada ($545 million)
Mexico ($503 million)
China ($282 million)
United Arab Emirates ($280 million)
United Kingdom ($265 million)
Hong Kong, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and France rounded out the top 10.

Over the past decade, NH exports have grown exponentially—three times faster than the GDP since 2004.

Take a Deep Breath and Invest
Businesses can feel overwhelmed at this point. Remember, thousands of NH companies, from major international players to small shops, export products every day. They overcame challenges and you will too.

There are resources available every step of the way, including the Office of International Commerce. You are not out there alone.

There is some investment you will need to make to bring your product to market, such as building a website, translation services, attending foreign trade shows, and tapping into services that vet and evaluate various markets. The Office of International Commerce has programs to offset these costs, such as matching grants from the federal State Trade and Export Promotion program and the Export Expansion Fund. The amount of investment needed to start exporting varies as there are many factors to consider, including the market, the product and available grants to offset those costs.

Tina Kasim is the program manager for the Office of International Commerce. For more information about exporting and getting started, visit ExportNH.org or call 603-271-2341.

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