U.S. Urges Small Businesses To Export To Asia

By Agence France-Presse The U.S. Commercial Service will encourage American small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to export to Asia to broaden their markets and beat the economic downturn at home, officials said March 4. Officers of the U.S. government's trade promotion body and 14 Asia-Pacific countries and cities gathered in Singapore to hammer out a blueprint for promoting the region to American SMEs. Of the 23 million SMEs in the United States, only 1% or about 230,000 firms, export their products, said Douglas Barry, director of marketing and communications for the U.S. Commercial Service in Washington, D.C. Of this number, 65% export to Canada and Mexico. "There's been a downturn in the domestic markets, and I think more [U.S.] companies are realizing now that it's important to have a strategy that develops markets outside the U.S.," Barry said. "Many of these companies are also experiencing competition from companies from abroad that are selling in the U.S. market. You can't afford to be parochial in your outlook, you have to think more globally and internationally." The U.S. Commercial Service, which is a unit of the Commerce Department, says it hopes that its efforts will double the current number of American SMEs that export in the next several years. The meeting gathered U.S. commercial officers attached to U.S. embassies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well Australia and New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea, India and Hong Kong. Representatives from Washington also attended. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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