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  • 26 Apr 2016 by Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    The United States has benefitted greatly from easy trade between and among the states and from a large and growing population base.  For many US companies, growth was possible without a thought about foreign markets.  And, for a long period of time, exports as a percent GDP hovered below 10 percent.

    By contrast, most European and Asian businesses working with strict borders and smaller national populations were forced to compete in foreign markets where they had to overcome economic, language and cultural barriers. If domestic businesses in European countries wished to grow they had to rely much more heavily on the ability of its businesses to sell into foreign markets.

    Consequently, the differences in the circumstances between the US and European and other nations has produced distinct differences in the relative importance of trade to domestic economies. In the US, about 13 of 100 jobs are derived from overseas demand for US produced goods and services.  Contrast that to export-related jobs in other countries – Australia (21 of 100) Canada (32 of 100), Germany (46 of 100), and Austria (53 of 100).

    What these data suggest is that most of business in the rest of the world has had centuries of experience with foreign markets.   In the US, not so much.   It appears that many US businesses will have to play catch-up if they are going to compete effectively with businesses from other nations in newly emerged markets in Africa, Asia and South America.  Languages, cultural awareness, business practices and legal, banking and accounting differences may impose barriers to many new US businesses moves into foreign markets.

    These global realities are likely to represent special challenges to Pittsburgh businesses. First, recent census data indicate that the region is losing population.  Population-based growth is not likely.  Second, Pittsburgh’s presence in foreign markets is about half of the national average.   Only about 7 out of every 100 jobs result from foreign customer purchases compared to 13 per hundred in the nation as a whole.   Pittsburgh area businesses have less experience with foreign trade than other businesses in the US, on average.

    Consider this.  If Pittsburgh export activity rose just to the national average from 7 to 13 per hundred jobs, an additional 68,000 jobs could be supported by foreign demands for regionally produced goods and services.

    How can Pittsburgh businesses move into foreign markets with greater effect?   

    Several things.   Businesses need to start thinking globally when it comes to markets.  Even small business have had success in overseas markets.   Businesses should not feel alone in making the decision about foreign markets.  There are many sources of support of all kinds in the Pittsburgh region.   Public organizations like the #Southwest Pennsylvania Commission and the #US Commercial Service in Pittsburgh are great resources as are private firms like #Bank of America’s international banking services and Schneider Downs for tax assistance.   Pittsburgh also houses a local office of the international organization #Global Chamber.  Becoming a member of #Global Chamber Pittsburgh gives #Pittsburg area businesses a venue to interact with other businesses about foreign markets and provides extraordinary access to professional trade people on-the-ground in countries and markets around the globe.

    The Pittsburgh area can compete in global markets but more businesses need to take that first step to make foreign markets a more substantial source of jobs, income and growth in the region.  Resources are available in abundance in the Pittsburgh region to help them do so.     #globalchamber.org      @globalchamber   #Pittsburgh  @Pittsburgh

  • 24 Feb 2016 by Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    Ask any small - medium size business owner and he or she will likely tell you that time is really scarce compared to the number of important things to do.  Little wonder then that many business leaders look askance at invitations to join yet another organization.  Membership means valuable time taken away from the business.  The decision to join hinges on the proposition that membership is worth it and the burden of proof falls upon the organization to identify the sources of value to businesses. 

    Assessment of the decision to join or not has been a topic for discussion for many years among the association community.  A recent article1. written to argue for industry trade association memberships, when adapted to the Global Chamber, offers a powerful statement in support of membership.  Let us begin with the upfront statement that what we are talking about here is membership in an organization (Global Chamber) whose sole purpose is to help businesses DO foreign trade not merely talk about it.  The value of membership in the Global chamber stems from business needs for: 1. information, 2. inspiration, 3. support, 4. referrals, 5. Affirmation, 6. training and 7. fun.    Each will be discussed in turn.

    1. INFORMATION    Circumstances surrounding an activity like foreign trade can change daily. New laws, new regulations, new transport alternatives, changing political conditions, volatile exchange rates, etc. are usual.  Consequently, it is of great importance to decision making that the latest information is available.  In this environment, up to date information is especially valuable.  Global Chamber Pittsburgh offers monthly updates on developments in foreign trade.  On behalf of member needs, Global Chamber surveys, gathers and reports on up-to-date foreign trade developments saving individual members time.

    2.  INSPIRATION   The press of daily business sometimes narrow one’s focus; obscuring the view to new opportunities.  To many, time away from the office, spent in a supportive atmosphere that allows members to think about foreign markets, sharing thoughts and bouncing ideas off peers facing similar challenges can inspire thinking and actionMembers, during the course of regular meetings can most likely expect to benefit from conversations with peers in the hallway outside the meeting room as well as from formal presentations.

    3.    SUPPORT    There are many small to medium size businesses where there is but one person assigned the task of being the “export guy”.  Many toil alone on trade issues.   Global Chamber members come to monthly sessions and they sit next to and talk with others who share their interest in and responsibility for foreign markets. They will find members who will be supportive and perhaps provide a “shoulder to cry on”.

    4.  REFERRALS      At some time in the consideration of foreign markets, all businesses likely will confront an issue or problem with which they are unfamiliar.  Questions arise like, Where to turn? Who to call? and Who can I trust?  Finding help can involve a cost of search that can be prohibitive.   The Global Chamber provides unprecedented and immediate access to sources of help around the world. Referrals can be provided on such items as: on-the-ground across-the-world personal contacts, government services, legal advisors, tax advisors, training and a host of others not only in Pittsburgh area but throughout the US and more than 500 chapters worldwide.  A member of the Pittsburgh chapter automatically is a member in ALL 500+ chapters around the globe.

    5.  AFFIRMATION   Often, if we work in the rarified atmosphere of foreign trade we reach conclusions that may leave us uneasy because we have not had a chance to test those ideas with another person knowledgeable with trade.  Global Chamber members can use their associations with other members to test ideas or verify them in close personal conversations perhaps in the hallways or in small group Export Circle meetings.   And more than likely, a Chamber member will have the opportunity to speak to share his or her experiences and reaffirm what the suspected i.e., they are discover that their experiences a worth it to others to hear.

    6. TRAINING    Even if we look at companies that are mature foreign traders who have been at it successfully for years, there can be a special benefit to them.  The CEO can send a junior staff member to be an active participant in the Global Chamber by taking on a committee assignment, doing some public speaking, organizing a committee or designing and leading a project. This is great training in the “soft” skills that the junior staff person can bring back to his/her trade work in the company.  Opportunities to develop these kinds of skills are limited in most companies – especially as they relate to foreign trade.

    7. FUN    Getting together with other business leaders who share an interest in global trade can be fun.   Global Chamber meetings are all designed to maximize the opportunity to talk with one another – not just sitting and listening to speakers speaking.  Global Chamber members can make friends as well as deals. .

    The choice to be involved in an outside organization can be a difficult one given the claims on a business’ time.

    But if a business is looking for growth by expanding into global markets, given the complexity of trade, membership in The Global Chamber could very well be worth it as a place to collect information, carve out special time to focus on global trade, meet in a supportive atmosphere and provide training to younger employees – all taking place in a fun atmosphere.  So, go to www.globalchamber.org and sign up today!

     

    By

    John Sumansky, Executive Director

    Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    www.globalchamber.org

    .@GlobalChamber

     

    Reference:  McClean, Robert E.  “7 reasons Why Really Small Businesses Should Join their Industry Trade Association to Succeed”, accessed 02/23/2016,  http://www.remservices.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/7reasons.pdf

     

  • 20 Jan 2016 by Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    The US is now selling far more of its talent and technical know-how to foreign buyers than ever before.  And foreign trade in the services, unlike trade in goods, is making a net positive contribution to the nation’s balance of trade and US income.  This has not always been the case. Throughout the 1960’s and on into the 1970’s the US was importing more professional services than it was exporting.  Since the 1970’s the situation has turned greatly in the US’ favor. 

    Put another way, world demand for US talent and know-how has been growing and remains strong.   So, in the US, regions that have basic strengths in the production of services are likely to benefit from continued strong growth-inducing foreign spending on US services.

    The Pittsburgh metro area has good reason to be optimistic about the potential of foreign demand for services to contribute positively to the regional economy.  Why?    Data support the contention that Pittsburgh has participated in the growth of services exports to date and is well positioned to expand its position in foreign markets for services.

    This proposition is further supported by the fact that export growth in services has been particularly strong in sectors in which the Pittsburgh area has a special concentration of talent and know-how

     

    Nationally, within the services category, export growth in professional and technical services such as finance and insurance services was a robust 35 percent between 2010 and 2015.  Over the same period, growth in a second services category which includes things like legal, intellectual property, management consulting and business and engineering management services, export growth has been 46 percent!

    How does Pittsburgh’s business sector match up against these significant indicators of world demand? 

     In 2014, Pittsburgh‘s proportion of employment in the finance and insurance sector was 51 percent above the national average.   In the broad sector which includes legal, engineering and management services, the Pittsburgh proportion stands at 148% above the national average.   Both of these service categories suggest that Pittsburgh is already providing levels of service that exceed regional demands, i.e.., they are indicators of the existence of a strong service export sector in Pittsburgh.

    These data bring services into clearer focus as a strength of the Pittsburgh economy.   We need to support and assist the Pittsburgh services sector in expanding their global sales and in the process sustain Pittsburgh’s economic growth and replace the income loss from declines in Pittsburgh’s exports within the goods-producing sectors.

     

    John Sumansky, Executive Director

    Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    www.globalchamber.org

  • 05 Jan 2016

    There are thousands of small-medium size businesses in the Pittsburgh metro  who are not yet working in foreign markets.   It is likely that many have thought about  doing so  but have not yet taken the first step. This brief note is designed to offer a suggestion of a very simple and straightforward idea to consider as a first step.  More experienced firms might also find some of the suggestions helpful.  

    First off, just being on the web with your products may not be enough to attract foreign inquiries and potentially, customers.   Experience and research of the past few decades has taught us that foreign languages and cultures influence the way people see and react to web sites.  Fortunately there are many articles on this topic and many firms which specialize in the design of web sites to ensure acceptance in foreign markets.

    To give you an idea of what can be learned from a reading of what has been written on this topic, let me cover a few of the elements to think about in answer to the question posed in the title of this post.

    A good place to start is to have your web site staff install a "button" on the home page that will allow others in foreign markets to get a translation of critical elements/characteristics  of your products or services. Such a button can represent a willingness on your part to discuss your products with international customers.  (Caution:  make certain that you have a least one person who is prepared to talk to potential foreign customers. Does not necessarily have to be someone who is fluent in the foreign language)

    To be sure, the issue of foreign-friendliness is a bit more involved than simple installation of translation buttons.  To get you started in further thinking about the friendliness of your web site,  I highly recommend an article by Ms. Christine Warren titled "55 Tips for Developing a Global-Friendly Website".

    ( article can be found at www.mashable.com/2010/10/11/global-web-design)

    The article's 5 tips include the following:

    1.   "Make sure your website loads quickly"  ( If your site takes a long time to load, you could lose a customer)
    2.    Reduce the use of text in images. (Machine translation systems balk at text embedded in images)
    3.    Make sure web design can survive machine translations.  (Watch out for foreign languages that use different alphabets which might affect other design elements on your web pages. The most interesting challenges are those represented by foreign languages that are read right to left!)
    4.     Colors!     (Viewer reactions to color can vary differently across cultures. (Study your market and  use  compatible color schemes )
    5.     Make your shopping cart internationally friendly.   (Install an exchange rate calculator to allow foreign customers to interpret US $ prices in terms of their currency) GOOD LUCK!

     .@globalchamber.org            #www.globalchamber.org

  • 04 Jan 2016 by Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    Hi, I’m John Sumansky, Executive Director of Global Chamber Pittsburgh. Our team is excited to announce that Global Chamber has landed in Pittsburgh. We have already started connecting member companies to businesses and organizations around the world, bringing new opportunities to them and the metro area.

    Global Chamber is the only organization in the world that helps companies grow beyond all borders - from every metro area into all other metro areas, collaborating with regional organizations around the globe to build new opportunities for them and their community.

    Contact me directly to learn more about how you can grow your business from and to metro Pittsburgh through global connections and our other services.

    Looking forward to working with you to grow globally!

     

    John Sumansky

    Executive Director, Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    John@globalchamber.org

  • 31 Dec 2015 by Global Chamber Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh is a vibrant economic region but with still untapped opportunities and challenges.  There are indications that area businesses are not yet exploiting potentials of international markets for sales as well as resource supply.  While Pittsburgh ranks 23 in GDP among all US metro regions, its export production only ranks 32nd!    Over the period 2012-2014, the value of Pittsburgh exports declined from $14 billion to $10 billion. The largest part of the decline stemmed from lower world-wide demand for the region's coal and other mining products.  And, while it may sound reassuring to learn that more than 2,650 of Pittsburgh's businesses are exporters, this number represents only about 4 percent of the region's total 63,000 businesses.  

    What to do?   According to recent studies, for most small to medium enterprises  it is the lack of knowledge of foreign languages and customs that is seen as a major impediment to export and other forms of trade.  Other things that tend to hinder exports are:  difficulties in establishing relationships with foreign businesses and interpreting any US or foreign government trade laws, rules and regulations.  To be sure there are a large number of government and non government sources of help, but it is true that many small-medium businesses are just not sure how or where to start!

    I would like to suggest that membership in The Global Chamber Pittsburgh is a good place to start. . #The Global Chamber can be a valuable first stop. It is riskless and provides access to the experiences of peers which can be used to inform a company's decision to export or not.

    In addition, the #Global Chamber with its 50 offices world-wide give local business unprecedented access to foreign experts who are positioned in their countries to provide Global Chamber members with introductions and access to local markets,  prospective partners, producers and wholesalers.   Visit www.globalchamber.com or email questions or requests for more information to john@globalchamber.org