28 Sep 6 Things to Keep in Mind When Exporting to the USA
The United States of America remains the biggest market for several countries around the world when it comes to imports and exports. Since the market is lucrative, the level of competition is high. The GDP figures for the US are steadily improving since 2011. There are many reasons why several countries choose to export their products to the US market. Some of them are as follows:
- The regulatory barriers are comparatively low
- A supply chain with international reach allowing you access to other lucrative markets for your exports
- Minimal to no issue of language barrier
- Strict laws protecting your rights as exporters
Despite the points given above, the first move for any exporting business owner can be shaky. Here are some important points to consider before you export to the US market.
Important Considerations before Exporting to the US
Consideration No. 1 – Culture
If you’re just starting to do business in the United States, you certainly need to be aware of the country’s culture and business environment before you embark on your journey. The following bullet points will help you succeed in the US business environment.
- Meeting, greeting and small talk – You will gain immensely if you have a sunny disposition when meeting a US businessman. It is common practice to start any conversation with “How are you?” It helps to break the ice and start an informal dialogue.
- Communication Style – US businesses follow an informal style of communication, which is friendly and most of the time to the point. Do not try to beat around the bush. You will be well served if you answer questions directly and precisely. A lot of business also happens over out of office meetings at lunch or dinner. You should also prepare by having financials of a transaction worked out often during the very first meeting itself. US businesses like to be efficient.
- Be timely – A lot of laid-back cultures do not attach enough importance on being timely. This will put off many US businessmen. If you have an appointment, reach early, rather than late. Account for your commute or traffic when planning to attend a business meeting.
- Dress – If you’re meeting a potential business partner for the first time and are not aware of their dressing style, it is always safe to be over dressed rather than under dressed.
Consideration No. 2 – Know the Most Lucrative Industries
It would best to know the industries and products that flourish the most in the US. While you can always operate in a niche market, the gains will not be as significant as you can obtain by being a part of a lucrative market. Here are the industries that make up the larger portion of US imports:
- Mechanical parts and machinery
- Oils and fuels obtained from minerals
- Electrical equipment
- Soft furnishing items and furniture
- Pharmaceutical items
- Precision equipment
- Photographic equipment
- Measuring equipment
- Precious stones and metals
- Plastic items
- Organic chemicals
Keep in mind that the US imports more than it exports, so targeting this region for your export business is definitely worth it.
Consideration No. 3 – Know That Different States Are Different Markets
You can’t treat the US as one uniform market with interest in the same items throughout. The US has 4 time zones, 50 states and huge differences in cultures as you move from north to south. For example, when you look at New York, the most popular imports are gold, diamond, natural gas, sweaters, pullovers, precious stones, wristwatches, silver, sculptures and antiques.
On the other hand, when you look at the most popular imports into California, the top items are crude oil, processors, ADP machine parts, television related apparatus, semiconductors, scooters, pedal cars, fax machines, and copiers. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you approach a state where your industry is popular.
Consideration No. 4 – Benefit from Trade Shows
Before you jump into the market unprepared, it is best to understand the market and create some useful links by attending trade shows. Trade shows are the places where you can find suppliers, distributors, partners and even the right buyers. However, you have to do your research and pick a trade show that will be most productive for your business. Here are some of the most popular trade shows and their focused categories.
|Trade Show||Focused Industry|
|1. International Production and Processing Expo||Seafood, poultry and meat|
|2. Texworld||Clothing and apparel|
|3. NSSF Shot Show||Industrial items|
|4. American International Toy Fair||Games and toys|
|5. International Gem and Jewelry Show||Jewelry items and gems|
|6. America’s Beauty Show||Herbal and Ayurvedic items|
|7. IBS New York – The International Beauty Show||Beauty and cosmetic items|
|8. InventHelps INPEX America’s Largest Invention Show||Fabrication, manufacturing, invention, repair and maintenance|
There are hundreds of other trade shows that you can participate in and find ways to grow and expand your business beyond borders.
Consideration No. 5 – Know the Legal Constraints
Just like you land in a country and have to abide by its rules and regulations, your products have to do so too. You must research and know if your product is allowed in the US, and that there will not be any legal consequences of selling it within the US boundaries. Here are a few pointers to help you understand your legal restrictions while exporting to the US:
- Know the items that can’t be exported to the US. This is a good resource to check restricted items as advised by US CBP.
- Know the items that need certification or license before you can export them e.g. live animals, bones, animal feed, livestock, etc.
- Understand product labeling and FTC and FDA laws pertaining to product labeling.
- Understand ITAR before exporting military related items.
- Get a good grasp on the product liability laws of the US.
- Find out what technical regulations your products have to meet to avoid lawsuit.
- Know the packaging requirements under FDA rules and regulations.
- Check for any trademark infringements.
Consideration No. 6 – Get help when you’re starting off
Lastly, it would be best that you work with a freight forwarder when you are looking to ship your goods to the US. They will help you meet all legal requirements and arrange the needed documents to ship your goods to the US unhindered.