Talk to any small business owner about growth strategies, and you will quickly find yourself immersed in a lively discussion about the benefits and challenges of international trade.  Similarly, if you ask top executives at larger companies about the evolution of their business plans, you will likely hear the word “globalization” enter the dialogue.

The reason for all of the talk about international trade is clear, and we’ve discussed the advantages of going global often on the pages of DHL Expressed.  Today, approximately 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, and the International Monetary Fund estimates that almost 87 percent of global economic growth in the next five years will take place outside of our borders. U.S. companies that want to grow understand that the path forward will likely take them abroad, if it hasn’t already.

With so much attention focused on the potential of international trade, how should companies develop or expand their export strategies in 2016?  How can they target the appropriate markets, and when, for instance, should they consider the possibility of doing business in emerging markets?  How should they determine if exporting even makes sense for their organization in the first place?

To help answer some of these questions, we’ve assembled a list of the top exporting resources. These key trade agencies and organizations provide demographic and economic data by country to help companies understand how a particular product might fit into a specific market.  They offer insight into exporting rules, licensing requirements, security issues and customs procedures. They provide access to local experts who can help one-on-one, and they shed light on export financing strategies and the logistics of exporting. Let’s take a look:

National Export Initiative (NEI): The International Trade Administration’s NEI and site are good places to begin to collect information and data, learn about the exporting process and gain insight international markets and customs processes. From basic information to detailed data reports and training opportunities, the NEI assists existing exporters and potential new exporters on multiple fronts. At DHL, we have partnered with the NEI to establish a New Market Exporter Initiative to further assist exporters as they develop their trade and logistics plans.

Small Business Administration (SBA):  For small and medium-sized businesses, the SBA’s Export Assistance Centers offer direct assistance.  The Centers are located in metropolitan areas across the country, and help businesses to understand new markets, trade rules, export loan opportunities and other financing options.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Clearing your products quickly through customs, both here and in countries abroad, is key to international trade success. The CBP offers guidance on customs procedures and requirements for exporting goods (and for importing, of course), and offers information about new automated systems designed to expedite the clearance process.

USA Trade Online (U.S. Census Bureau): The U.S. Census Bureau houses comprehensive trade data that it provides through USA Trade Online, a unique tool that gives users access to current and cumulative U.S. export and import data. Information can be used to identify new markets and to evaluate existing trade targets.

If you are ready to begin exporting, or exporting more, there are resources to help.

Where do you find answers to your global trade questions? Let us know at @DHLUS.