More and more each day, Americans appreciate that 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders. The middle class is growing quickly in regions like Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South America, and consumers in those markets want the goods and services that U.S. businesses have to offer.
In 2014, New York businesses exported $86 billion in products to international destinations, supporting nearly 390,000 jobs. These exports are an economic engine for the region and reflect the state’s diversity, extensive infrastructure and entrepreneurial prowess. However, many New York businesses have yet to explore their export potential.
More than 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power is outside U.S. borders. If a business is selling only domestically, it’s leaving money on the table. Many would-be exporters put off exploring overseas sales because they believe exporting is burdensome, they think their businesses are too small or they are not aware of available export assistance. But the reality is that during the last few years, exporting has become much more viable: The combination of the Internet, improved logistics and transportation options, and more free trade agreements has helped turn even the smallest companies into exporters.
If a company has a good record of selling in the United States—one of the world’s most open and competitive markets—it probably is a good candidate for making international sales. In fact, small and midsize businesses employing fewer than 500 people account for 98 percent of U.S. exporting companies.
There’s also great opportunity for current U.S. exporters to expand their sales to new countries. Fifty-eight percent of all U.S. exporters sell to only one market. But a company that exports only to Mexico, for instance, should explore additional markets in Latin America, where the United States has many free trade agreements. Altogether, the U.S. now has 14 free trade agreements with 20 countries, and exports to these 20 countries represented nearly half of all U.S. goods exported in 2014. These FTA markets accounted for $28.4 billion (33 percent) of New York’s exports in 2014. Since 2005, exports from New York to these markets grew by 27 percent, with NAFTA, Israel, Singapore, Australia, and Jordan showing the largest dollar growth during this period.
One company, Rhema Scientific, Inc., of Hawthorne, New York, distributes medical supplies to hospitals, laboratories, and clinics around the world. To help expand it export sales, the company began working with the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Westchester, New York, part of the Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service (CS) in 2012. With the help of export counseling and other programs, the firm made new sales to United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, and Oman. Rhema Scientific reports that 80 percent of its employees are involved in export operations, and for the year 2014, 95 percent of its sales were from exports.
Exporting can be rewarding and challenging, but the key to success is having a long-term commitment, developing an export strategy and seeking assistance. By doing so, companies will greatly enhance the chances of taking their business to the next level—offering them economic stability and growth and the possibility of creating more jobs right here in New York.
Michael Grossman is a Senior International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service in Westchester, New York. For more information, visit www.export.gov/newyork.