WSU is collaborating with government agencies to provide information and advice about exporting products to agricultural businesses in the state of Washington.
The Community Economic Revitalization Board Export Assistance Program (EAP) provides one-on-one consultations to businesses regarding rules and regulations for exporting agricultural products such as meat or produce, said Yunfei Zhao, a research associate for EAP at WSU.
“We can serve the export information needs,” Zhao said.
He said businesses do not always know where they should export their products and what the specific regulations regarding exports are for different countries. For example, he said if a company does not know the regulations involving exporting meat products to China, the shipment could be stopped and returned at the expense of the company.
“Many American companies do not export, or export less than they should export, because they lack the necessary resources or information,” he said.
Zhao said the EAP provides several services to companies looking to export. For example, they offer resources to assess whether or not the business is ready to export and provide market research for where in the world the products would sell best and what the business must know about the regulations in the foreign country.
The EAP reaches out to businesses in the state of Washington by attending marketing events, including international trading shows and local agricultural shows, such as the Spokane Agriculture Expo, he said.
The EAP is a program underneath WSU’s IMPACT Center in the School of Economic Sciences. To provide the EAP services, WSU is collaborating with a number of other agencies including the Washington Small Business Development Center (WSDC) and the Washington State departments of Agriculture (WSDA) and Commerce, among others.
Zhao said the WSDA and Department of Commerce provide administrative needs for the program, while WSU provides the services to businesses.
“We are the people actually doing the work,” he said.
Andrew Cassey, assistant professor and extension economist, said the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) funds the EAP.
Zhao said the program uses a system similar to the grade point average for a student to assess a company’s readiness to export. The EAP also refers businesses to sources of funding to begin exporting, such as the Export-Import Bank of the United States as well as local agencies. He said a business must be able to financially support their exporting expansion for one year before the exports bring in revenue.
The EAP was developed in 2010 after President Barack Obama announced a national export initiative to double exports during the course of five years, Zhao said. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire started a state of Washington specific initiative to increase the number of export businesses to 10,500 in five years. Under the Washington Initiative, six projects were developed to increase exports, including the EAP, Zhao said.
Cassey said the program has been successful so far. He said the number of exports increased from 2010 to 2011.
The program began in January 2010 and the one-on-one consultation services will end in December of this year. However, online resources will remain available to businesses looking to export, Zhao said. Currently, companies can access the Export Toolkit, an online quick-start guide to exporting. A non-tariff trade barriers guide and a searchable database of agricultural businesses in the state of Washington are under development and will be accessible by the end of the year, Zhao said.
Cassey said the quick-start guide contains ten steps the companies can use. The steps include using an online survey to assess readiness to export, researching markets and learning how to market products.