- Table of Contents
- Full Issue in PDF
- Winning the Future Through Exports
- Helping U.S. Manufacturers Expand Exports
- Freight Forwarders Support Push to Grow Exports
- ITA Win in Kenya
- Short Takes
- Trade Calendar
- Featured Trade Event: Clean Technologies Trade Mission to India
Freight Forwarders Support Push to Grow Exports
Freight being loaded on a jet plane. Freight forwarders handle 80 percent of U.S. exports, and are vital link in the supply chain. (Digital Vision)
Freight forwarders are an indispensable, and often hidden, part of the export process. Their primary trade association has taken on the challenge of reaching out to its members’ clients and connecting them with government resources, thereby supporting the growth of U.S. exports as envisioned under the National Export Initiative.
by Doug Barry
Freight forwarders are the oil that helps drive the U.S. export machine. Every year, they facilitate more than 80 percent—more than a trillion dollars—of U.S. exports. Largely unheralded, freight forwarders move products from U.S. producers to customers worldwide by ship, airplane, train, and truck. They handle the paperwork and regulatory details at every step of the supply chain. They figure out which ship goes where, how many days the trip takes, and where the goods will sit on the ship depending on how fast the client wants the goods unloaded or how low the client’s shipping cost needs to be. Freight forwarders then help clear the goods through customs and arrange at the port of arrival for conveyance to the final destination, even arranging for pushcarts or rickshaws if necessary.
Additional Learning Tools
The Department of Commerce offers a variety of learning tools for companies that want to learn more about topics related to shipping, including a number of archived Webinars that are part of the “Basic Guide to Exporting” series produced by the Trade Information Center. These resources can be found on the U.S. government export portal, Export.gov.
It is no wonder that the International Trade Administration (ITA), through the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s Trade Information Center, has partnered with the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) to help increase U.S. outbound sales under the National Export Initiative (NEI).
“Freight forwarders are ideal multipliers for us,” said Susan Lusi, director of the Trade Information Center. “We’d never in a hundred years be able to reach all of the more than 265,000 U.S. exporters, plus untold others, who can benefit from our international buyer-finding and other services. Working with the forwarders, now we can.”
Partnering and Outreach
Currently in the third year of working with ITA, Barbara Reilly, NCBFAA’s vice president, noted the relationship is of equal value to both organizations. “Our members found the customs brokerage side of the business more profitable during the boom years when the United States imported much more than it exported,” she said. “Nowadays we need more exports to balance the decline in imports, and partnering with the Commerce Department is a huge help to our members and their exporting customers.”
In addition to offering Webinars and other resources in export basics, ITA has sent speakers to NCBFAA’s annual conference to talk with owners and executives of the freight forwarding companies, which range from small family-owned businesses to shipping giants such as UPS and FedEx. In 2010, this included Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade, who spoke at the association’s conference in San Antonio, Texas, an important hub for U.S.–Mexico trade.
Generating New Exporters
This year, ITA challenged NCBFAA’s membership to cultivate 10 new exporting customers and to work with ITA to help existing customers export to new markets. Similar to other U.S. exporters, most of the forwarders’ customers export to only one or a handful of countries.
According to Reilly, “We have over 900 members, so generating 9,000 new exporters in a year is a realistic goal, and one we hope to exceed.”
Reilly added that, before working with ITA, few of NCBFAA’s members were aware of the Department of Commerce’s nationwide network of Export Assistance Centers, nor had many met with their local trade specialists. That’s changing now as members receive weekly e-mail updates about ITA-sponsored export events and resources for their employees who deal with the public and customers.
“We want to be part of the local network of innovation and economic development in the communities where we live and do business,” said Reilly. “Joining forces with ITA and working together to achieve NEI goals is now a major focus of [our] efforts.”
Doug Barry is a senior international trade specialist in the Trade Information Center.
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