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How trade stats can help US businesses expand abroad

Guest blog post by Dale Kelly, Chief of the International Trade Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau

International markets provide an opportunity for U.S. businesses to increase sales and overall competitiveness, but knowing how to get started and learning about foreign markets can be daunting. The U.S. Census Bureau can help.

Although known most widely as the home of the decennial Census of U.S. households, the Census Bureau also is responsible for collecting, compiling, and publishing monthly trade statistics on all goods imported and exported from the United States. Every month, the Census Bureau releases information on the import and export of commodities such as soybeans, corn, rice, chemicals, steel, aircraft, and lumber. Together with the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which collects similar data on services imports and exports, the Census Bureau releases the  “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services” report. This report provides detailed information on import and export of merchandise by commodity and end-use category as well as by the multitude of countries and areas with which the U.S. conducts international trade. All of these reports are available at the Census Bureau’s foreign trade web page.

How can this information help U.S. businesses? The Census Bureau provides detailed information on more than 9,000 export commodities and 18,000 import commodities. Easily accessible online, this information assists U.S. businesses in making informed decision by tracking the global marketplace for their product and identifying possible opportunities to expand to new markets.

In addition to data, the Census Bureau provides resources and tools to help businesses export. The Census Bureau’s International Trade Management Division conducts outreach and training around the country. Training includes webinars, seminars, workshops, and blog posts on using trade data, understanding foreign trade regulations and utilizing the Automated Export System, which allows the electronic filing of export information directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. These same data are the source of the Census Bureau’s merchandise export and import statistics. The next two-day training on the Automated Export System begins on January 21 in Houston, Texas.  Trade is a vital part of our economy, and the Census Bureau plays an important role in providing detailed timely information to U.S. businesses to make informed decisions.

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