Last year, the United States exported $2.5 trillion—yes, trillion—dollars worth of goods and services to foreign countries. Our nation is the third-largest exporter in the world, trailing only China and the European Union. Within our borders, California is by far the top exporting state, shipping out nearly $280 billion worth of goods and services in 2018. Have you got in on global trade yet, or are you letting the competition reap all the rewards? For many small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs), entering the exporting arena often comes down to a matter of knowledge and cost. But did you know that there federal programs available to assist you?

6 Federal Assistance Programs For Manufacturers

The federal government offers a number of programs to helps SMMs test foreign markets, orient themselves within a new market, train U.S. or foreign representatives, and overcome obstacles to trade. Here’s a look at them.

Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM)

The main government agency responsible for assisting in the export of American goods and services, EXIM helps create and sustain U.S. manufacturing jobs through a variety of loan, guarantee, and insurance programs. Its programs are made available to any American company looking to export for the first time or expand exporting efforts regardless of size, although their main focus is helping SMMs. There are no transactions, in terms of dollars, that are too small for EXIM to consider! There are three EXIM offices in California:

Irvine San Diego San Francisco


The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration collaborated with 19 U.S. Government agencies to create Export.gov, which helps U.S. companies plan, develop, and execute international sales strategies necessary to succeed in today's global marketplace. Developed by international trade specialists and economists, here you will find trusted market intelligence, practical advice and business tools to help you understand how to export, connect with foreign buyers, and expand operations in new markets. There are 15 Export.gov offices in California:

Bakersfield Los Angeles-West Ontario San Jose
Fresno Monterey Sacramento San Rafael
Indio Newport Beach San Diego Ventura
Los Angeles Oakland San Francisco  

District Export Councils (DECs)

DECs are organizations comprised of leaders in the local business community, appointed by U.S. Secretaries of Commerce, who have a wealth of international business knowledge and are prepared to provide advice for local businesses considering exporting. Closely affiliated with the Commerce Department’s U.S. Export Assistance Centers, DECs combine the expertise of exporters and export service providers who support the U.S. Government’s export promotion efforts throughout the country, and offer specialized expertise to SMMs that are interested in exporting. There are four DECs in California:

Inland Empire Northern California San Diego & Imperial Southern California

United States Commercial Service (U.S.CS)

The trade promotion arm of the International Trade Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S.CS aims to promote the export of goods and services from the U.S. by manufacturers, particularly SMMs. Whether you’re looking to make your first export sales or expand to your reach to other international markets, the U.S.CS offers trade counseling, market intelligence, business matchmaking, and commercial diplomacy to connect you with the right business opportunities; they also help SMMs develop trade finance and insurance strategies. There are 13 U.S.CS offices in California:

Fresno Oakland San Francisco
Inland Empire Orange County San Rafael
Los Angeles Sacramento Silicon Valley
Monterey San Diego Ventura

United States Small Business Administration (SBA)

Created in 1953, the U.S. SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small businesses, providing counseling, capital, and contracting expertise. The SBA aims to preserve competitive enterprise and strengthen the economy through counseling, training, and financing to support small business export opportunities. There are 3 SBA offices in California:

Los Angeles Orange County/Inland Empire Sacramento

World Trade Center Association (WTCA)

Membership-based and non-profit WTCs of California help businesses develop international trad through education, resources, and connections. To do this, the WTCs hold many events throughout the year, and each location also hosts over 1,000 international visitors to facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices to build long-term relationships across the globe. There are three main WTC offices in California with a variety of divisions:

Los Angeles Northern California San Diego

Want to Learn More About Exporting?

While these federal programs may be able to help you enter or expand into the global marketplace, exporting may not be right for all SMMs. If you’re considering entering the global market but aren’t yet ready to reach out for federal assistance, you may want to consider ExporTech.

ExporTech is a collaboration between the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), the U.S. Commercial Service, and a variety of regional partners. It is an export corporate management program that’s been helping manufacturers enter or expand into global markets since 2006. Today, there are over 1,035 companies throughout the United States and Puerto Rico that have participated in ExporTech program. And, the results have been impressive:

  • Participating companies average $500,000–$700,000 in new export sales
  • Many generate export sales within 6 to 9 months of completing the program
  • On average participants reported cost avoidance and investment savings of $91,000
  • Total program impact has been nearly $500 million in increased or retained sales

95% of the world’s market lies outside of the United States. With competition becoming fiercer every day in the U.S., entering global markets can offset declines in domestic sales. Get the federal help you need to grow your business or learn more about ExporTech here.

Is your business ready to export?


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