Our primary offices are located at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.
Small Business Development Center
108 Rockwell Hall
600 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15282-0103
Phone: (412) 396-6233
Fax: (412) 396-5884
Monday through Friday 8:30AM to 4:30 PM
How do I begin an import/export business?
For assistance in beginning a business, utilize the nationwide network of business development centers established by the Small Business Administration to assist beginning entrepreneurs with the fundamentals. To locate the Small Business Development Center near you, visit www.pasbdc.org, www.asbdc-us.org, www.sba.gov or call 1-800-U-ASK-SBA. If you have already established a business and want to start exporting, refer to the sources of assistance described in the following pages such as www.sba.gov/international and www.export.gov and call 1-800-USA-TRADE with any further questions or for additional guidance.
What should I consider when making the decision to begin exporting? How do I begin?
There are a range of options for becoming involved in exporting, from filling orders for domestic buyers to exporting directly yourself. For those who choose to export directly, a detailed and thorough strategy should be developed. Steps in developing such a strategy include: evaluating your product's export potential, evaluating whether your company is "export-ready", identifying key foreign markets for your products, evaluating distribution and promotional options and establish an overseas distribution network, determining export prices, payment terms, methods and techniques, etc.
How can I get information on importing products into the United States?
Information on importing is usually available from the foreign embassies located here in the U.S. When calling, try to speak with a commercial officer or trade attache. The U. S. government publishes Importing Into the United States at www.cbp.gov, which contains information on all the documentation and regulations required for importing into the U.S. To obtain U.S. tariff rates for specific imported products, contact your local Customs Service office at www.cbp.gov. For NAFTA related import questions, visit the NAFTA Center at http://export.gov/logistics/eg_main_018131.asp
How do I determine if my company is "export-ready?"
A useful resource for new exporters is the Export Business Planner and the Breaking Into the Trade Game, a step-by-step guide to the exporting process available free from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Visit www.sba.gov/international or call 1-800-U-ASK-SBA. A Basic Guide to Exporting, describes the mechanics of the export transaction. Visit www.export.gov or Contact the Department of Commerce at 1-800 USA TRADE. A comprehensive list of organizations of interest for you located in your state is available on the National Export Directory, Trade Information Center.
Department of Commerce District Offices are also listed on the Commercial Service Internet site. After acquiring the "basics," contact a TIC Trade Specialist at 1-800-USA-TRADE for more assistance. If exporting an agricultural commodity, contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture's AgExport Connection at (202) 720-7103 or www.usda.gov
How do I obtain market research for a specific country and/or product?
The Basic Guide to Exporting is the place to start at www.export.gov. For industry-specific information visit https://usatrade.census.gov/. To access the Country Commercial Guides, Market Research Reports and lists of potential agents and distributors overseas who are interested in buying U.S. products, visit the Market Research Library at www.export.gov. Another place to visit is the Department of State's home page, www.state.gov then go under "Travel and Business". New reports are added to the database every month.
Where can I obtain information on foreign markets and trade opportunities for fish or agricultural products?
In cooperation with the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, www.ita.doc.gov and fishing industry representatives and organizations, the Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service assists exporters and issues U.S. Government Certifications. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov Contact: Office of Trade and Industry Services, Fisheries Promotion and Trade Matters, (301) 713-2379; Inspection Services Division, (301) 713-2355. Finally, the World Agriculture Reports provide a world market analysis of various agricultural commodities. In addition, the Foreign Agriculture Service is on the Internet at http://www.fas.usda.gov/. Your first point of contact for agricultural export advice should be AgExport Connections.
How can I receive information on foreign regulations, standards or certification requirements for my product?
As mentioned above, the Country Commercial Guides (CCGs) examine each country's trade regulations and investment practices. The CCGs are available on the Market Research Library at www.export.gov, and on the State Department Home Page (under "Business Services"). Many of the country desk officers in the Department of Commerce also maintain information on foreign country regulations, standards, and certification systems and/or a contact list of organizations. A list of the Country Desk Officers is available at 1-800-USA-TRAD(E). In addition, the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) provides information on U.S. and foreign conformity assessment procedures and standards for non-agricultural products. www.nist.gov. The NIST does not provide copies of the standards. For more information, contact NIST at (301) 975-4040 or visit their web site. You may also wish to try the International Standards Organization, the American National Standards Institute, or Duquesne University Center for International Regulatory Assistance (CITRA) at www.citra.duq.edu.
How can I find out about investment practices in a certain country?
The Country Commercial Guides (CCGs) examine each country's trade regulations and investment practices, and present a comprehensive look at the commercial. Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices are available on the www.usatradeonline.gov for those countries that do not have CCGs. These Country Reports, along with CCGs and Country Background Notes, are available on the State Department home page (under "Travel and Business") and also at http://www.export.gov/tcc
Does the U.S. federal government have any programs to help advertise my products overseas?
Commercial News USA: a catalog-magazine published 10 times a year to promote U.S. products and services in overseas markets. It is disseminated to business readers worldwide via U.S. embassies and consulates and international electronic bulletin boards. Exporters can advertise U.S.-made products or services in Commercial News USA by visiting http://thinkglobal.us/ or contacting your local Department of Commerce District Office.
How do I locate trade leads for my exporting business? How do I locate potential distributors in overseas markets?
The Commerce Department offers many programs to assist exporters with trade leads. Trade Opportunities Program provides trade leads printed in the Journal of Commerce and other private sector newspapers. TOP leads are also available through the USA Trade Online Internet site (http://www.usatradeonline.gov). Country Directories of International Contacts provides lists of foreign directories of importers, government agencies, trade associations and other organizations. The Agent/Distributor Service is a customized search on behalf of U.S. companies seeking foreign representation. You can place an order for this service through your local Export Assistance Center found at www.export.gov, or by calling 1-800-USA-TRAD(E). The Gold Key Service is custom-tailored for U.S. companies planning on visiting a foreign country, combining orientation briefings, market research, introductions to potential partners, interpreter service for meetings and assistance in developing a marketing strategy. Contact your local Export Assistance Center for more information. International Buyer Program - Look for contacts at your industry's trade shows in the United States. See www.export.gov for further descriptions.
What is a Harmonized Tariff System Classification (Schedule B) Number? How do I determine my Schedule B Number?
The Harmonized System Classification is a standardized numerical method of classifying traded products. This ten digit identifying number is assigned to each product and used by customs officials around the world to determine the duties, taxes and regulations that apply to the product. The first six digits are harmonized throughout the world. The last four digits vary by country. To obtain the Harmonized Tariff System number for your product, visit, www.usitc.gov. To get your Schedule B number, visit the U.S. Census Bureau's web site. http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/ If you need assistance in classifying your product, call the Bureau of the Census Foreign Trade Division at (301) 457- 1084. For official rates, it is always best to contact the country's Customs authority. The Trade Information Center can provide unofficial tariff rates for non-agricultural products for certain countries as well as contact information for foreign Customs authorities. For more information, see the document entitled Foreign Tariff, available on our web site at http://www.trade.gov/td/tic/ and clicking on "Foreign Tariff, Taxes, and Customs Information." It is also available by calling 1-800-USA-TRAD(E). For tariff rates for importing into the United States, please contact U.S. Customs.
Is there a tariff or quota that applies to my product in country X?
After you have obtained your Schedule B number from the U.S. Bureau of the Census (above), you need to obtain the tariff rate for the country you are exporting to. Visit the Trade Information Center at or contact the appropriate U.S. Department of Commerce country desk officer or regional business center to obtain a tariff rate. For the telephone number, contact a trade specialist at the Trade Information Center at (800)-USA-TRAD(E).
How can I find export financing?
The first source for export financing is your regional and local bank. A list of some local banks with international trade experience is available at http://export.gov/finance/index.asp . The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers loan guarantees through their Export Working Capital Program (EWCP) to help small businesses export. SBA's EWCP provides transaction-specific financing for loans of $833,333 or less. Exporters may use this program for pre-export financing of labor and materials, financing receivables generated from these sales, and/or standby letters of credit used as performance bonds or payment guarantees to foreign buyers. To contact the SBA office, call Steven Drozda at (412) 395-6560 x114 or contact Patrick Hayes at (216) 522-4731. You can call SBA headquarters at 1-800-827-5722, or visit the SBA home page.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States offers a Working Capital Guarantee Program for working capital loans over $833,333. The Ex-Im Bank also has an Export Credit Risk Program and also offers sometimes direct loans to foreign buyers. For more information on Export-Import Bank programs, call their export finance hotline at (800) 565-3946 or visit their home page at http://www.exim.gov.
Do I need an export license to ship my product to a particular market? How do I get an export license?
Most goods do not need a license, and can be cleared by entering "NLR" (no license required) on the Shipper's Export Declaration or now called the Automated Export System. For Export Licenses visit www.bis.doc.gov. They are generally required for high tech or strategic goods or goods shipped to certain countries where national security or foreign policy controls are important. The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) administers export licenses and regulations. BIS holds numerous seminars each year on export licensing requirements and documentation. An exporter can call BIS at (202) 482-4811 (Fax: 202-482-3617) on the East Coast, or (714) 660-0144 on the West Coast, to determine if he/she needs a license. BIS also maintains a home page which provides information about all the above mentioned at http://www.bis.doc.gov/.
Do you have lists of American manufacturers and suppliers? Do you have lists of other U.S. importers and exporters? Do you have lists of export trading/export management companies?
You can find them in the following publications and internet sites. The U.S. Exporters' Yellow PagesTM, or a directory of exporting companies by state and by industry can be found at www.thomasregister.com. It is a free directory. Industry associations generally have directories of their members. The Harris database, (phone: 1-800-888-5900 / www.harrisinfo.com, or the www.Kompass.com directories are also a good source of information. The following publications (available in many local libraries) contain lists of industry trade associations: Encyclopedia of Associations (National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States), and the Register of American Manufacturers (phone: 212-695-0500; http://www.thomasregister.com/).
Which programs on the www.export.gov would a beginning exporter find most valuable?
For market research: Search the Country Commercial Guides (also available on the State Department Home Page under "Business Services"), Market Research Reports (including Industry Subsector Analyses and International Market Insights), the CIA World Factbook (also available on the CIA Home Page), and Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices. For statistics: Search the Bureau of the Census, www.census.gov. For international trade contacts: search from the main menu the Commercial Service International Contacts List.
Each State started their own "Mini-embassies" or "Foreign Offices" to help companies located on their States to do business abroad. In Pennsylvania there is the Center for Trade Development.
Yes, Pennsylvania has Foreign Offices in 24 countries and they help PA companies to enter those markets. The countries are; Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Israel, South Africa, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai. Visit www.NewPa.com/trade
Is it true that all Pennsylvania companies receive free-of-charge services from all the PA Overseas Offices?
Yes, you can export your product or service by getting help from the PA Overseas Offices located in the 24 countries mentioned before. If you want to access those offices, please contact any of the Southwest Regional Export Network agencies. Duquesne University-SBDC will be glad to help you as part of the Regional Export Network. Call us at 412-396-1633 for more information or visit www.duq.edu/sbdc