Services Are Exportable

Services Are Exportable
By María Clara Yepes

Many small business owners think exporting means trading tangible goods. But, in today’s global world, there is a great chance a service can be successfully exported. While small service companies are sometimes shy to explore international ventures, this could be a great way to expand sales and retain jobs. Especially in industry sectors where local demand has dropped considerably (architecture and construction services for instance) some companies are keeping afloat by relaying on foreign projects.

The United States is a world leader in services exports. In fact, the U.S. has a positive trade balance on services.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, services exports totaled 534.1 billion in 2010. Out of that total, 238.9 billion were in the “other private services” category. This category includes business, professional and technical services (accounting, communications, consulting, design, engineering, etc.); insurance services; and financial services.


Data published by Enterprise Florida, Inc. shows Florida’s services exports at $27.9 billion in 2009. Service exports sustain an estimated 390,000 jobs in the state. The Tampa Bay area has many success stories. Take for example, Ambient Technologies, Inc. It is headquartered in St. Petersburg and it provides geophysical and drilling services in the U.S., Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The company won the 2008 Export Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce and it is now involved with the Panama Canal expansion.


Finally, the timing is just right! Companies should be motivated to export to offset poor domestic demand. The dollar is weak, which makes U.S. products and services more affordable to the world. President Obama launched the National Export Initiative to support businesses with technical training and export financing. There are many local resources that will assist small business owners with export planning and international trade events (SBDC at USF, U.S. Commercial Service, EFlorida, among others).


Do we need to say more? Start your export planning now!


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