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Guest blog post: Developing Foreign Business is Easier than You Think

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Portrait of Friesen

Guest blog post by Dr. Cody Friesen, founder and president of Fluidic Energy, an associate professor at Arizona State University and a member of the U.S. Manufacturing Council.

As the founder of Fluidic Energy and a member of the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Council, I’m always mindful of the state of the economy. It’s impossible not to notice the beneficial impact of trade, and the importance of manufacturing, to the continued growth of U.S. exports.

The Manufacturing Council exists to advise Commerce leadership on the best policies to support manufacturing and U.S. exports.As great as exporting sounds in theory, the barriers to exporting can seem high to many small or medium-sized companies, but that’s really not the case.

I had the privilege of joining Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and 19 other American companies on a trade mission to Latin America, discussing infrastructure development in the region.

We were able to meet one-on-one with government officials and foreign company executives who will be shaping the growing infrastructure of these growing economies. We made crucial contacts and learned the critical facts in each country that will help us to maximize the opportunities for our company in the region.

The Department of Commerce was instrumental in pulling together the meetings most meaningful to Fluidic. The Gold Key Matching Service and the local International Trade Administration staff, especially the U.S. Commercial Service personnel, in each country made it possible to rapidly assess potential business opportunities.

Gold Key is a truly remarkable, and perhaps underutilized, service available to any company looking to potentially enter any of the 72 countries in which ITA has a presence. I can’t speak highly enough of the committed staff with whom we worked in the run up to the mission, and their attentiveness to our business needs once in country.

Fluidic Energy now has the facts, the contacts, and the industry awareness to make sure we can compete as these regions develop the next generation of their energy infrastructure.

So how’d we do it? Simple: we applied.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration leads missions like this regularly. You just find the industry and the region most suited for your business. Then you apply. Then you export.

As we export, we support the economic recovery. We prove that in the face of a global supply chain and a global customer base that U.S. manufacturing is far from dead. We also advance the U.S. knowledge economy, provide protection for our businesses against economic downturns, and we help foreign companies and consumers around the world understand that nothing beats the products made by American companies.

I’d like to thank the Acting Secretary, who is just about to return to academia (yeah!), for leading this mission. She is one of those rare people who find themselves in important roles yet remain remarkably gracious while navigating what most certainly is a highly demanding role. I wish her all the best in her new role.

If you aren’t exporting because you think the barrier to entry is too high, you’re missing out. I hope more of my advanced technology and manufacturing colleagues in the U.S. get on board. The world wants what we have to offer.

Remember, “Sine labore nihil”–without labor nothing.

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