Houston’s exports have been soaring, and they will get an additional boost now that Air China, China’s flag carrier, opened up a non-stop flight route between Beijing and Houston.
This is Air China’s first non-stop flight route to the U.S. in 30 years, and it is easy to see why Air China chose Houston—the city consistently ranks near the top of the most globally-oriented business communities in America.
In fact, for the first time since the data has been collected, Houston became the top exporter among U.S. metropolitan areas in 2012. Houston’s goods exports totaled $110 billion, accounting for more than half of all Texas exports.
This new flight will only help Houston exporters continue to expand to new markets.
Behind Mexico, Canada, and Brazil, China is Houston’s fourth-largest export market, importing more than $5 billion of goods from Houston in 2012. With China’s rapid urbanization and growing middle class, demand for American-made products is likely to grow. This new flight is the next step in expanding the relationship between Houston and China.
The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration recently released U.S. metropolitan area trade data for 2012, which shows that overall exports are up for the third consecutive year. Specifically, exports are up in 31 of the top 50 metropolitan areas, 29 of which reached record exports between 2011 and 2012. Among the top 25, Washington, DC, recorded the highest growth between 2011 and 2012, increasing exports by nearly 43 percent. Exports from San Antonio, Texas, which has an MBDA Global Business Center, grew by 33 percent during the same period.
The Department of Commerce offers a wealth of tools and information for businesses to make choices about exporting to international markets. For example, did you know that U.S. companies sold $8 billion in transportation equipment and food products to South Korea last year? U.S. companies also exported $1.4 billion in agricultural products to Turkey.
These are just two examples of the kind of information available through the International Trade Administration’s TradeStats Express. Here’s another. Let’s say your company sells office furniture. Using TradeStats Express, you can very quickly determine that furniture sales to Saudi Arabia have grown 153 percent from 2007 levels and that they are currently purchasing over $140 million in furniture and fixtures from the U.S.
Exporting your product and services requires planning. Like any successful project, one of the first steps is making a plan. Whether you’re going on vacation, conducting a domestic business transaction or starting a new venture one common trait is essential for success . . . careful attention to detail. A great starting point to determine your company’s level of preparedness for international market entry is completing an export readiness assessment.
Selecting the appropriate markets for our products and services, determining how to strategically engage target markets, and securing the financial and managerial resources are just some of the analyses needed to ensure that your export venture is a long-term success. The results of such an assessment may, for example, lead to modifying and ramping up production in order to ship your products to South America or perhaps giving consideration to a more complex venture of opening an office abroad.
Are you interested in exporting to a new market? Need help finding the best overseas business partner?
The U.S. Commercial Service’s Gold Key business matchmaking service does exactly that. The Gold Key Service is a cost-recovery fee based, customized matchmaking service, which enables U.S. companies to find an ideal overseas distributor or business representative. The Gold Key is provided through your local U.S Export Assistance Center which works with the U.S. Embassy in the country of interest.
For larger countries, that require multiple distributors/business partners, the Gold Key Service is offered specifically for the geographic area you would like to target. The service pre-screens and organizes a day or two of meetings with 3-5 potential partners which you then fly out to meet. A Gold Key can take 6-8 weeks to complete so planning ahead is necessary.
Where is the value?
As you can imagine, U.S. companies find this service very valuable because they receive pre-scheduled meetings with pre-qualified distributors vetted by an in-country Commercial Specialist at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, prior to traveling to the market. Obviously no business partner is absolutely perfect but every effort is made to identify a compatible relationship.
Small businesses interested in starting or expanding sales of their goods and services overseas have access to a new, free online tool that will gauge their readiness to export and help them develop an export business plan.
The Export Business Planner, developed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, offers a ready-made, customizable and easily accessible document that can be updated and referenced continuously as the business grows.