Trade FAQs

All your Questions answered in one place

Some of your Questions:

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Q. To begin exporting, what should I consider ?

There are many ways to become involved in exporting, from filling orders for domestic buyers (such as export trading companies that then export the product) to exporting products yourself. However you choose to export, the development of a detailed and thorough strategy is an important part of the planning process. Review the list below and take an export readiness assessment to see if you are ready to begin exporting. Evaluate your product's export potential Evaluate whether your company is export-ready Determine your level of commitment to international markets Identify key foreign markets for your products through market research Evaluate distribution and promotional options and establishing an overseas distribution system Determine export prices, payment terms, methods, and techniques Familiarize yourself with shipping methods, export documentation procedures, export financing, and other requirements for exporting. For further assistance, a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or Export Assistance Center can help a company analyze its export potential.

Q. Where can I find a list of foreign companies in a particular industry or sector?

The Trade Information Center (TIC) does not have comprehensive lists such as these, but can direct callers to other useful resources, such as: The International Partner Search, Commercial Officers in foreign trade offices, embassies, and consulates, Foreign Trade Associations, The Foreign trade Register, Kompass International Trade Directories, and AllBusiness.

Q. Where can I find information on foreign government and international tenders?

TCC provides links to websites containing information on Global Procurement Opportunities.

Q. Where can I find information on proposed foreign government technical regulations?

Go to the "Notify U.S." service to receive, via email, notifications of drafts or changes to foreign regulations for a specific industry sector and/or country. You can review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that may affect your business. Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report proposed technical regulations that may affect trade to the WTO Secretariat, who in turn makes them available to all WTO Members. By registering for the Notify U.S. service, you can have these notifications sent directly to you.

Q. Where can I find information on trade sanctions?

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the U.S. Treasury Department administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries, terrorism-sponsoring organizations, and international narcotics traffickers based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. OFAC acts under Presidential wartime and national emergency powers, along with authority granted by specific legislation, to impose controls on transactions and freeze foreign assets under U.S. jurisdiction. Many of the sanctions are based on United Nations and other international mandates, are multilateral in scope, and involve close cooperation with allied governments. For information, please contact OFAC by telephone at 1-800-540-6322. Much of the information available from OFAC can also be accessed on its Internet website,, and its Information-by-Fax service. This automated service is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by dialing (202) 622-0077 from any touchtone phone. OFAC documents on the system include all those available on the OFAC site as well as notices, such as General Notice No.1, licensing guidelines, and copies of Federal Register notices (often including notices filed, but not yet printed in the Federal Register). The "Index of Available Documents" is date-specific. Note: Individuals and companies with questions or concerns about trade sanctions should be diligent in their efforts to understand and fully comply with all laws and regulations related to these. Failure to do so may result in substantial penalties. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet:

Q. Where can I find information on trade statistics?

There are a variety of trade statistics available. These various sources are provided in detail within the Export Basics portion of our website.

Q. Does my product need a China Compulsory Certification (CCC Mark)?

CCC Marking and certification are required on many manufactured goods marketed in the China.

Q. Does my product need a European CE Marking?

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive list of the products that require a CE marking. Therefore, it is the manufacturer's responsibility to determine if a product requires a CE marking.

Q. What are ISO standards?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (Organisation internationale de normalisation), is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations.

Q. What are the documents and certifications needed for agricultural exports?

Agricultural exports require a number of unique documents and certifications from both the U.S. and destination country. Visit the U. S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service Regs for import requirements imposed by the target country for a particular product.

Q. What are the District Export Councils (DECs)?

District Export Councils (DECs) are organizations of leaders from the local business community, whose knowledge of international business provides a source of professional advice for local firms. Many DEC members are practicing attorneys. For more than 25 years, DECs have served the U.S. by assisting companies in their local communities export. For more information regarding District Export Councils, contact a local export assistance center.

Q. What are the services provided by an Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN) lawyer?

In your first meeting, the volunteer Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN) lawyer will help you identify the key legal issues facing your company in exporting. The volunteer will explain basic contractual requirements, taxes and regulations and give you introductory information on other necessary resources, such as banks, freight forwarders, insurance companies, and state and federal programs to expand exports. Your consultation will last long enough to identify the legal issues facing your product or service. This free consultation is meant to provide a reasonably detailed overview of the legal issues involved in exporting. You are then free to handle the next steps yourself, or to hire an attorney to complete them for you.

Q. What information is available on U.S. and foreign standards? has a variety of information regarding U.S. and Foreign standards, such as: Agriculture-Specific Requirements and Certifications -- Agricultural exports require a number of unique documents and certifications from both the U.S. and destination country. European CE Marking Guidance -- CE Marking and certification are required on most manufactured goods marketed in the European Union. China Compulsory Certification (CCC Mark) -- CCC Marking and certification are required on many manufactured goods marketed in the China. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) -- The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (Organisation internationale de normalisation), is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Onerous or Discriminatory Certifications, Standards and Regulations -- Where particularly onerous or discriminatory barriers are imposed by a foreign government, a U.S. company may be able to obtain help from the U.S. Government to press for their removal. In these cases, the firm should file a complaint with the Trade Compliance Center.

Q. What is the European Directive on packaging, packaging waste, and recycling requirements?

The European Union's Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, which entered into force in 1994, guided member states efforts to harmonize national measures on the management of packaging waste to ensure that member states restrictions on packaging do not create barriers to trade within the EU. Furthermore, the Directive is intended to reduce the overall impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment. The Directive covers a variety of packaging (paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metal) and calls for measures to prevent the production of packaging waste and reuse, recycle, and recover packaging.

Q. What is the Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN)?

A widely available and useful legal resource for new to export businesses is the Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN). In this innovative program, established by the Federal Bar Association with assistance from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration's International Trade Program, lawyers from the Federal Bar Association links volunteers to provide an initial legal consultation free of charge to companies just beginning to export. Under ELAN, knowledgeable lawyers help new to export companies learn the legal aspects of international trade. ELAN has regional coordinators throughout the United States, each with three or more attorneys on tap.

Q. What is the eco-label?

An eco-label is a label manufacturers print on their packaging to demonstrate that their product is environmentally friendly. The Eco-label program in the European Union is intended to give industry incentive to behave in a more environmentally responsible manner. The program is supposed to assist consumers in making purchasing decisions and to reward producers of "green" goods by helping increase their market share. To obtain an Eco-label valid for three years, manufacturers or importers must apply to the competent body in the member state in which the product is either manufactured or imported. That competent body will, in turn, circulate the company's application to other EU countries to obtain EU-wide approval.

Q. How does a company stay abreast of regulatory changes in the U.S. and abroad?

To find out if regulations have changed in a particular country, contact the Global Knowledge Center (GKC) or a local Export Assistant Center (EAC). The GKC and an EAC do not keep track of these changes, but can help direct a company to the appropriate resource. Additional Resources National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Notify U.S. Export Reference Library Federal Register

Q. Where can I find additional information on alternative dispute resolution?

Below is a list of alternative dispute resolution resources: American Arbitration Association (AAA) -- The AAA is a not-for-profit organization with offices throughout the U.S. AAA has a long history and experience in the field of alternative dispute resolution, providing services to individuals and organizations who wish to resolve conflicts out of court. Read more about the American Arbitration Association. International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) -- The ICC provides a forum for businesses and other organizations to examine and better comprehend the nature and significance of the major shifts taking place in the world economy. they offer an influential and respected channel for supplying business leadership to help governments manage those shifts in a collaborative manner for the benefit of the world economy as a whole. Read more about the International Chamber of Commerce. International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR) -- The CPR is the leading independent resource helping global business and their lawyers resolve complex commercial disputes more cost effectively and efficiently. Read more about the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution. American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law -- Founded in 1933, the Section of International Law is the leader in the development of policy in the international arena, the promotion of the rule of law and the education of international law practitioners. It is the only ABA entity that focuses on the full range of international legal issues and is involved in a wide variety of substantive legal activities. Read more about the American Bar Association's Section of International Law. SICE's Commercial Arbitration and Other Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

Q. Who is responsible for meeting the regulations?

The importer is generally responsible for meeting the recycling and packaging requirements of its country. However, U.S. exporters should be aware of the EUs, Japans and other countries packaging and recycling regulations, as many foreign buyers will take into account the type of packaging your company is using for international shipments. U.S. companies may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage if their packaging material does not meet their buyers domestic standards.

Q. How can I learn about export licensing? has comprehensive information on export licensing. Contact the Global Knowledge Center for additional questions or for immediate help.

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