Home Resources Helping Hands: U.S. Resources For Import/Export Startups

Helping Hands: U.S. Resources For Import/Export Startups


world map

by Steve Smith, founder of ISO (It Straps On)

Import/export companies in the U.S. have a wealth of information at their fingertips. If you’re in the business, or just getting started, here’s some information that might help you.

International Trade Administration.

This is the largest clearinghouse of information for locating foreign buyers. It’s also a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its primary mission is to help companies find and develop their export business. It does this by providing country-specific market analysis and trade lead setup.

As an added bonus, you get chaperoning of personal meetings between you and interested businesspeople – a sort of referral introduction if you will.

The group has trade specialists in 107 different cities in 80 countries. The goal is to help you meet your importing and exporting needs. Other services include market research, trade events, and introductions to buyers and distributors. Counseling and advocacy services are also available.

This is how companies like ISO Stainless got started, and one of the reasons we’re so successful in the import-export business.

USA Trade Online.

USA Trade Online is a service that is market-research specific. It’s offered by the Foreign Trade Division of the Census Bureau. As of this writing, it offers current and cumulative U.S. import and export data. It has over 9,000 export commodities and 17,000 import commodities.

There are also video instructions on how to perform various tasks like identifying top and emerging markets, monitoring foreign competition, and obtaining values and growth rates. Unlike many other services, this one is not free.

Subscription rates are $25 per week, $75 per month, or $300 annually. 

Country Commercial Guides.

Another service you should be aware of is the Country Commercial Guides. These guides give you just about every piece of information you could want to know about the country you’re thinking of breaking into. For example, you can get market potential and demand trends in any country, the size of the market and import stats, competition in your target country, market access and regulations you’ll have to overcome, the best sales prospects, end user information, and industry contacts.

It makes getting into the import/export business also a sure thing. Almost.

Export Assistance Centers.

One of the most frustrating things about the import/export business is the perceived difficulty of getting into foreign markets. Export assistance centers largely solve this problem. Country Commercial Guides help you sort through various laws, regulations, and other logistical problems so that you can focus on doing what you do best.

They also write up a customized market analysis and report that’s tailored to your product or service.

Once that’s done, you choose your target country and the specialists contact importers, distributors, consumers, and end-users as well as manufacturers of comparable products. The whole process takes about 60 days.

The fee for the service ranges between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on the country.

If you have specific questions about your market, you can also pay an additional fee for flexible market research. The cost ranges between $200 and $3,000.


steve-smithSteve Smith founded ISO, It Straps On, Inc in 1994. Based in Louisiana, and using stainless steel from U.S mills the multiple award winning company has grown to export its stainless steel products worldwide.