Tips for Entering Trade Markets

International trade specialist Heather Ranck offered tips in the most recent issue of our Ag Innovator magazine on how to play the export game and win.

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Only 5 percent of the world’s consumers live in the United States. Selling to exclusively domestic markets could significantly limit business potential. In 15 years of experience in agribusiness and the farm equipment industry, I have recognized five guiding principles for export success that apply to any aspiring farm equipment exporter.

First, do your research. For aspiring exporters, researching a new market can feel unlimited in scope. The U.S. Department of Commerce has a Rural Export Center (REC) to make this daunting task easier and more accessible for farm equipment companies and other rural manufacturers.

Second, prepare to invest. Companies needs explicit commitment to exporting at the most senior levels, including human and financial resources dedicated to global expansion.

Third, leverage partners. The International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service has staff in more than 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers throughout the U.S. as well as a global network of staff in U.S. embassies and consulates, including staff specialized in agribusiness. These professionals stand ready to assist U.S. businesses.

Fourth, be specific. Be detailed with your overseas partners. Put into writing dollar figures, dates, responsible parties, and key performance indicators. A common mistake among exporters is overreliance on goodwill and general promises.

Fifth, be patient. Building relationships, committing to extensive travel, and navigating cultural differences can be intimidating and time-consuming. Exporting is a marathon rather than a sprint.