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Francisco Sanchez: Kansas is benefiting from increased exports

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of President Obama's National Export Initiative, an unprecedented effort to spur job creation and aid the nation's economic recovery by doubling U.S. exports within five years.

It may sound ambitious, but one year later we are well in pursuit of this mark, and Kansas businesses are among those benefiting most. U.S. exports of goods and services were up 17 percent through the first 11 months of 2010, and November marked the highest monthly exports of consumer goods on record.

Wichita-based BG Products manufactures high-quality automotive lubricants, cleaning products and automotive shop machinery. Confused by hazardous-material labeling requirements for the Middle Eastern and North African countries, the company sought the assistance of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, which compiled and organized the labeling information and provided it to the company.

As a result, BG Products landed a single-label shipment to its Dubai distributor, valued at $220,000, with additional distribution into Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. The key labeling requirements provided to BG Products made it possible for the company to ship to its desired destinations without the increased costs associated with multiple-label printing for its shipments.

Kansas companies need not travel far to benefit from or contribute to the president's goal of doubling exports. Rapidly emerging markets across Asia and Latin America are creating unprecedented demand for the kind of state-of-the-art products being developed in Kansas. It's crucial that more companies and business owners learn about the advantages of foreign trade and how to make it a part of their strategic business plans. And there's plenty of help to get them there.

But the question that remains for most business owners is simply how to take advantage of these opportunities. The National Export Initiative is focused on helping business owners and entrepreneurs in Kansas, as well as around the country, do just that.

Together we are helping companies grow and diversify their bottom lines by identifying export options and assisting with challenges or problems that may discourage them from pursuing these opportunities.

Last year we successfully assisted more than 5,500 U.S. companies to export their products, and helped secure international contracts worth $18.7 billion through our advocacy efforts. We also completed 35 trade missions.

The economy during the past few years has been anything but easy. It is, however, easy to see how new export opportunities can take us further along the road to recovery. No longer limited to multinational corporations, the global marketplace represents the future of American entrepreneurship, as business owners increasingly tap into these resources.

By striving to meet Obama's National Export Initiative goal, we are continuing to build an innovative, first-class economy that will thrive in the 21st century. And by doing so, the United States will continue to improve its trade balance, which is crucial to our economy's overall health and to the health of Kansas businesses.

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