International Markets & Tribal Enterprises: A Guide to Entering the International Market

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There has been an increase in the availability of financial and non-financial assistance for both minority businesses and small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) looking to grow internationally. The Small Business Administration (SBA) notes that small business exporters are currently selling billions of dollars of goods and services overseas every year. Their statistics also show that 70 percent of all exporters have fewer than 20 employees. Moreover, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) states that minority owned firms are four times more likely to export internationally in comparison to non-minority owned firms, regardless of size. This makes it an opportune time for tribal businesses1 to expand into new markets.

There is also a growing need for businesses to expand their operations into new markets. President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), announced in his 2010 State of the Union address, established his goal of doubling United States exports by the end of 2014. It was largely a response to the fact that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S., as well as addressing the IMF’s prediction that 87 percent of the world’s economic growth in the next five years will occur outside of the United States. Hence it is clear that the role of exports will prove pivotal to the survival of many companies.

However, the process of exporting goods and services can be complicated, particularly as there are many government departments and agencies involved in trade regulation. While the merits of international trade are undeniable, a business needs to ensure that it is in the right position to expand.

Tribal companies that are interested in exporting should not be put off by the red tape. Numerous Native American businesses have taken advantage of the assistance which is at their disposal- both the financial aid which has helped finance their international operations, and non-financial support, which has helped them navigate their way through export regulations and logistics.

This guide is divided into five sections:

  1. Exporting Process- A summary of some of the main laws, regulations, costs, and logistics of exporting.
  2. International Partners- An examination of the intricacies of an international business partnership, and the importance of a clear and comprehensive contract agreement.
  3. Legal Issues- An overview of how export related laws and regulations can differ between the U.S. and foreign countries.
  4. Financial Assistance- A summary of some of the financial assistance available to small to mid-size tribal businesses that are looking to export.
  5. Non-Financial Assistance- A summary of some of the non-financial assistance available to small to mid-size tribal businesses that are looking to export.