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Exporting Basics Appendix

APPENDIX: US Sources of Export Assistance

The U.S. Government offers a wide range of export assistance programs and services, and most state governments provide similar support to resident exporters. Government assistance focuses primarily on how-to counseling, trade information, matchmaking, trade promotion, and trade finance.

At the Federal level, many different U.S. agencies offer information or services of value to exporters. However, two U.S. agencies have primary responsibility for U.S. export assistance:

  • The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) for exporters of manufactures and services.
  • The Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) for exporters of food and agricultural products.

ITA has export assistance centers throughout the U.S., and both ITA and FAS have a network of overseas commercial and agricultural officers typically located in American embassies and consulates. Many states also have overseas offices. Other U.S. export assistance sources include Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), World Trade Center Institutes, and trade assistance centers often affiliated with local community colleges and universities, such as California's network of Centers for International Trade Development (CITDs).

The National Export Directory (NED) lists all the major federal and state export assistance organizations. Use the NED to find an agency, office or counselor near you, or contact each source directly (see list below). For a comprehensive list and description of U.S. Government programs and services, see Export Programs Guide.

A. Federal Export Assistance Organizations
Department of Commerce

International Trade Administration (ITA)
Bureau of Export Administration (BXA)
Bureau of Census/Foreign Trade Division
U.S. and International Commercial Offices and Staff
Overseas Buy USA sites
Department of Agriculture
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Marketing Service
Economic Research Service
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Energy Information Administration
Export-Import Bank (EX-IM)
Federal Reserve Board
Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
International Trade Commission (ITC)
Maritime Administration (MARAD)
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Office of International Trade
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN)
State Department
Agency for International Development (AID)
Trade and Development Agency (TDA)
Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts
Treasury Department
U.S. Customs Service
US Trade Representative (USTR)
State Export Assistance Agencies
Local Trade Assistance Centers
Foreign Trade Offices in the U.S. (Embassies, Chambers of Commerce, etc.)

B. Federal Export Assistance Programs and Services

Market Identification and Assessment

  • International market surveys and reports are available by product and/or country from DOC/ITA (manufactures and services research) and USDA/FAS (food and agriculture research). The comprehensive reports typically cover market size and outlook, market characteristics, competitive and end-user analysis, market access, and key contacts by industry and country.
  • DOC/ITA also offers a Flexible Market Research service tailored to a company’s specific product. A customized survey is conducted in the selected market to assess sales prospects, identify competitors, compare prices, recommend marketing and distribution channels, and identify potentially interested buyers and distributors.


  • Specific trade leads by product and/or country are available from DOC/ITA’s Trade Opportunity Program (TOP) and USDA’s FAS Trade Leads service. The leads are screened by U.S. embassy officers and reported daily to the respective agencies.
  • DOC/ITA’s Search for International Companies is an on line directory of foreign importers and distributors interested and qualified to represent U.S. exporters. The listed companies are screened by U.S. commercial offices in their respective countries.

  • DOC/ITA’s customized International Partner Search looks for qualified overseas representatives for U.S. firms. U.S. embassy officers conduct the search and prepare a report identifying up to six foreign prospects that have examined the U.S. firm's product literature and expressed interest in representing the U.S. firm's products.

  • DOC/ITA’s International Company Profiles provide key details about a specified foreign firm – reputability, financial status, references, recommendation – to assess their suitability as a potential trading partner for U.S. firms.
  • DOC/ITA’s Gold Key Matching Services assist U.S. firms conducting business trips abroad. The service includes embassy orientation briefings, market research, introductions to potential partners, interpreter service for meetings, and assistance in developing a sound market strategy and effective follow-up.

Market Promotion/Trade Events

  • DOC/ITA’s Commercial News USA (CNUSA) promotes U.S. products and services worldwide through a magazine and a companion on-line service. Each listing provides brief product information and a photo, with links to the company’s E-mail address and Web site.
  • DOC/ITA’s Matchmaker Trade Delegations "match" U.S. firms with prospective agents, distributors, and other potential business partners in selected countries. Delegation members travel to each country and benefit from export counseling, interpreter service, logistics support, market research, in-depth market briefings, and a personalized itinerary of business appointments screened by commercial specialists at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
  • DOC/ITA’s Catalog Exhibitions display product catalogs, brochures, and other graphic sales tools of U.S. firms in selected countries. Catalog exhibitors receive sales leads and a list of all foreign buyers attending the event.
  • DOC/ITA’s TradeFairs program places U.S. firms in leading international trade shows and provide services ranging from advance promotion to booth set-up help and other on-site assistance for U.S. exhibitors.
  • DOC/ITA’s International Buyer Program supports selected leading U.S. trade shows in industries with high export potential. Commerce helps recruit delegations of foreign buyers to attend the event and assists U.S. firms in matching their products, marketing objectives, and geographic targets with the needs of the international business visitors.

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