Is Your Business Missing the International Trade Boat?

Is Your Business Missing the International Trade Boat?If there was ever a time to go global, the time is now. According to the International Trade Administration, U.S. exports of goods and services hit a record $2.3 trillion in 2013 supporting over 11 million jobs. When you consider that 95 percent of the world’s customers are located beyond U.S. borders, you realize that exporters have the potential for higher profits and higher growth than non-exporters.

If your company is not exporting, you are literally missing the boat.

The National Export Initiative leads the effort to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014 by promoting “Doing Business In” campaigns, trade advocacy, financing and opportunities with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners.

The U.S. currently has FTA’s with 20 countries. This offers an excellent opportunity for small and medium sized businesses by greatly reducing or eliminating tariffs and other barriers to the importing country.

The two largest export markets for U.S. goods in 2013 were North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries Canada and Mexico, followed by China, Japan and Germany.

The U.S. Dept of Commerce recently released the Look South Initiative which seeks to help U.S. businesses explore opportunities to more than just one or two countries, increasing their potential for higher profits. Since more than half of FTA’s partners are in Latin America, the Look South Initiative will focus on educating businesses on trade opportunities in these emerging markets.

Because of the proximity to Latin America, Florida stands to benefit greatly from these initiatives. International trade is one of the state’s strongest sectors, accounting for approximately 17 percent of Florida’s economy, according to ITA. More than 60,000 companies in Florida export, supporting more than 1 million jobs and of those, 96 percent are small and medium-sized businesses.

Enterprise FL found that Florida exports to FTA partner countries has grown a staggering 89 percent in the last decade, accounting for approximately 36 percent of Florida’s exports.

“We are second, behind California, with the largest number of exporters and this trend is expected to continue as Florida continues to position themselves as the Gateway to the Americas”, Selma Canas, an international trade expert, said. Canas is a Certified Global Business Professional with the Florida SBDC at USF.

According to Canas, “The challenge we continue to face is getting the word out to those small and medium-sized businesses who do not know where to turn to for assistance. Going global may seem overwhelming but from these statistics, it is not impossible, and we are here to help.”

For qualified companies, the Florida SBDC at USF can develop a customized Export Marketing Plan identifying key markets and action plans. Enterprise Florida and U.S. Commercial Service will assist companies to identify potential overseas partners and customers with their Gold Key services.

  • Selma Canas

    NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP), Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa

    Specialties: International Trade, Export Marketing Plans, Market Research

    Selma Canas is responsible for guiding small businesses through the complexities of developing export marketing and international expansion plans and teaching seminars on basic international trade. She has developed more than 30 Export Marketing Plans during the past six years for local businesses, and participated in trade missions to Brazil, Chile, Canada, and the Dominican Republic. Canas has more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service in a variety of industries, including freight forwarding, real estate and advertising. As a co-owner of Restaurant Guide USA, she increased sales and distribution points and tripled the size of the distributed product.

    As a real estate broker-owner, Canas carved a niche in the Latin American community and had a career sales volume of more than $37 million. Canas earned her bachelor degree in economics from the University of South Florida. She is a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional and holds an Export and Trade Counseling Certification from the U.S. Small Business Association. Selma earned Florida SBDC at USF Employee of the Year honors in 2016. She is a member of Toastmasters international and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

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