While a weak global economy has hurt the U.S. export market, growth opportunities remain.
That was the message Karyn Page, chief executive of the Kansas World Trade Center, gave at a seminar Tuesday at the Wichita Industrial Trade Show at Century II.
She encouraged companies to think outside the Western box of Canada and Europe for export opportunities.
"Think Latin America," Page said. "Look to countries with ready cash. Look to countries with oil... the Middle East."
She said Russia and Algeria have developed into good buyers.
A company also should consider cutting costs by looking closer to home to feed its supply chain.
"If you're buying widgets from China," Page said, "you might want to look at Mexico."
The falling value of the dollar means bargain prices for exports.
"If you look at the euro, U.S. goods are 30 percent off," Page said. "That's a pretty good sale."
At the same time, she said there are obstacles for exporters, but they aren't all about a sour economy.
She said the U.S. government's bureaucracy makes this country less competitive in exporting.
Page cited a situation earlier this year when a small Kansas agricultural business had its very existence threatened because it couldn't get an interpretation of U.S. regulations in time to ship its perishable product.
"Why didn't they have the information? Because they weren't well informed," Page said. "The U.S. government talks about small businesses being the backbone of our economy, but it speaks to the largest companies."
She said the U.S. also doesn't have enough free-trade agreements.
Page said such an agreement with South Korea has been on the table for more than a year. She said it has been approved by both countries' government officials and the South Korean legislative body, but the agreement hasn't even been presented to Congress.
Page also presented her top 10 tips for exporters:
* Do your homework. Prepare.
* Be committed. This is not a quarterly objective.
* Be present. There is no substitute for travel.
* Be compliant. Understand the rules.
* Communicate clearly and promptly.
* Be flexible. One size does not fit all.
* Use available resources. Ask for help.
* Carefully select international service partners, such as bankers and lawyers.
* Be patient. The world does not operate on U.S. time.
* Enjoy. "Getting a world view should be enjoyable," she said.